Cordova High School adds AP classes to its curriculum
by Jennifer Cohron
Aug 23, 2012 | 3213 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cordova students in Alisa Brown’s AP biology class check the mass of a string bean in the school’s science lab Wednesday afternoon. Photo by: James Phillips
Cordova students in Alisa Brown’s AP biology class check the mass of a string bean in the school’s science lab Wednesday afternoon. Photo by: James Phillips
slideshow
CORDOVA — Students at Cordova High School were introduced to a more challenging curriculum on their first day back to class.

The school is now participating in A+ College Ready, a program of the National Math and Science Initiative. Its goal is to increase the number of students in Alabama who take advanced placement courses, earn qualifying scores on AP exams, attend college and successfully complete their higher educational goals.

Principal Kathy Vintson said CHS is the first school in the county to participate in the program, which has been available in the state since 2008.

Juniors and seniors at Cordova now have the option of taking AP courses in biology, language, literature and calculus. Several pre-AP courses will also be offered to freshmen and sophomores.

Students will be able to earn college credits for each course in which they earn a qualifying score on the AP exam that is given at the end of the term.

Vintson said that although the new curriculum will be more rigorous than CHS students have experienced in the past, she believes they are capable of meeting and even exceeding her expectations.

Vintson and Alisa Brown, the school’s AP advisor, also stressed that the opportunity to participate in the new courses will be made available to all students.

“We have an open-door policy. If you’re willing to put in the time and work to take these classes, then you can be in them,” Brown said.

Vintson said she believes the new curriculum will not only help students earn higher test scores but will also teach them critical thinking skills that will benefit them throughout their life.

She added that she became excited about the program after a speaker in a workshop she attended discussed how a test score of 30 should not be viewed as a failing grade in an AP course.

“In being able to complete three out of 10, the student has shown that he or she has learned in a very rigorous course with lots of hands-on activities,” Vintson said. “Would you rather have that or have them in a class where they can score 100 on a vocabulary test that they memorized but most likely cannot apply anything that they learned? In AP, it’s about celebrating what they’ve learned, not what they’ve memorized,” Vintson said.

CHS received a $50,000 grant from A+ College Ready that paid for 11 teachers to be trained in their respective AP and pre-AP subjects this summer and will also be used to purchase instructional materials for the next three years.