Five new AP classes add rigor to Moffat County education | CraigDailyPress.com

Five new AP classes add rigor to Moffat County education

Sisters Bekah and Christa Bird check out iPads for their Advanced Placement courses Wednesday at Moffat County High School. The iPads are one new feature of the expanding AP program at MCHS, and will enable students to access textbooks as well as other AP resources and tools.

— Between a new lineup of Advanced Placement courses at Moffat County High School and the concurrent enrollment program with Colorado Northwestern Community College, local students looking for more rigor in their coursework have a growing number of options.

MCHS added five new AP courses to its offerings this year, bringing the total to seven. The college-level courses provide juniors and seniors with the opportunity to earn college credit if they achieve above a certain score on the final test.

"Our teachers are expecting us to do a lot of things on our own and to read a lot more than we're used to," said MCHS senior and AP Language student Bekah Bird. "We have to learn some of the concepts on our own, which is what's going to happen in college… They're expecting us to be adults and to take care of our own education."

Bird took AP Biology last year as well, and said one of the most challenging aspects of AP courses is balancing them with other classwork.

The expanding AP program builds on the already existing concurrent enrollment program, through which students can take actual college courses and earn college credit so long as they earn a passing grade in the class.

In fact, students in most of this year's AP courses will have the opportunity to earn credit through either avenue, as the majority of AP courses are also being taught through the concurrent enrollment program.

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"It's a safety net for kids and that's why I like it so much," said MCHS Principal Kelly McCormick. "There's two options for them to catch the credit. Many times the kids will get a qualifying grade for concurrent enrollment and they could also get a three on the test, and it just opens doors."

In addition to AP Biology and AP Physics, which were offered previously, MCHS now offers AP Literature, Language and Composition, Statistics, Calculus and US History.

Students — and their parents — can potentially save thousands of dollars on college tuition by earning college credits either through AP or concurrent enrollment.

A student that takes four AP courses, such as both English classes, calculus and biology, can earn about 15 college credits depending on their test scores, equating to about $6,600 in money saved based on 2014-15 tuition at University of Colorado Boulder.

While saving money is one of the perks, McCormick's real goal is to increase rigor for MCHS students.

"The idea is to get kids used to the rigor so it's not such a slap in the face (when they get to college)," he said.

According to the Colorado Education Initiative, students who pass just one AP course are more than twice as likely to graduate from college, their chances going from 30 percent to 72 percent.

Performing well in AP courses can also boost students' chances of getting into better colleges.

The AP rollout is planned to continue next year with the addition of four more courses — AP Environmental Science, Government, Computer Science and World History.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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