Hezekiah Hunter has been home studying due to the pandemic and has struggled to cope with the onslaught of tasks that come with distance learning.

The number of Corpus Christi ISD Advanced Placement students has decreased in recent years, but exam scores have increased.

During the CCISD Board of Trustees meeting Monday, director of advanced academics Kimberly Story said she plans for AP students to score a 3 or more on AP exams by the end of the 2025 school year, up from 29% to 46 %.

“We got 39% for the 2019-2020 school year, but the exams for this year were very different,” said Story. “Those were the COVID exams. Those were 45-minute written exams for every student who took them from home.”

These aren’t the traditional tests, Story said. Before the pandemic, the AP exams took no more than four hours each.

“For this school year, students have the option to take their exams digitally,” said Story. “Either at home or on paper, with the exception of math, science and world language exams. These exams are all on paper and on campus.”

According to the story, all high schools offer students the option to take the digital exam at home or on campus based on their current learning situation.

“We encourage students to take these exams on campus as often as possible,” said Story. “Above all so that we can support you if you have technical problems.”

More than 10,000 students had technical difficulties trying to take their AP exams last year.

During the 2018-2019 school year, 2,134 AP core exams were taken, while only 1,744 AP core exams were taken in the final school year. Core exams include English, math, science, and social studies.

Over the past five school years, AP students averaged 37% in English exams, 51% in math, 36% in science, and 21% in social studies.

“Students are fighting nationally for the written parts of these AP exams,” said Story. “Our focus this year, starting with Spring Semester 2020, is on increasing success and answering the short answer questions. If we look at the data, this is our fighting area.”

A slide from CCISD Director of Advanced Academics, Kimberly Story, shows that AP student numbers have decreased from previous years while scores have improved.  The presentation took place on Monday, March 22, 2021, at a meeting of the Board of Trustees.

There were nearly 300 fewer AP students in the 2019-2020 school year than years earlier, but over 300 more tests were taken, with 34 more students getting a 3 or higher.

Regarding enrolling for AP courses, Story said it is not possible due to concerns about distance learning. However, the number of exam registrations has increased on every campus.

“The college board cut the $ 40 exam fee this year, which helped boost enrollment,” Story said. “In addition, AP coordinators and teachers on campus have promoted and continued to encourage students to enroll for these exams.”

Story pointed to a dramatic increase in the registration of AP exams in Moody and Miller high schools. 258 other students and 190 from Miller have registered from Moody.

“We are working with the principals, deans and AP teachers to promote and promote the registration of AP exams across the board,” said Story. “But Moody and Miller worked really hard to increase those enrollments.”

According to the story, strategies have been implemented to stay on track with the rise in AP student scores for years to come. Writing curricula, progress reviews, video classes, increasing participation in AP and Pre-AP courses, and ensuring that Pre-AP and Honors teachers teach at rigorous levels are some of the ways the district uses these strategies tackles.

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John Oliva covers education and community news in South Texas. Consider supporting local journalism with a subscription to the Caller-Times.