Advanced Placement (AP) courses are among the most challenging courses a high-school student can take. Four courses at Mt. Vernon High School can stake the claim of entire classroom success with all students passing the AP exam. All students in Studio Art: 3-D Design Portfolio, Studio Art: 2-D Design Portfolio, Computer Science A, and Spanish Language and Culture received a passing score of three, four or five to achieve college credit.
Mt. Vernon High School (MVHS) requires all AP students to take the AP exam, which is not the norm. (MVHS made one exception to not require a German foreign exchange student to take the exam; the college credit would not benefit the student.) Many high schools offer the AP test opportunity, but do not require taking the exam. This frequently can help the school’s passing percentage with only the more excelled students taking the exam to receive college credit.
MVHS Principal Bernie Campbell stated, “Mt. Vernon had nearly 400 AP exams from 241 students, which is the largest amount of annual exams to date. I am extremely proud of the classes that can acclaim 100% passing and the quality of post-secondary opportunities Mt. Vernon provides.”
Of the four classes, the Spanish AP course had the most students with 17 students. Studio Art 2-D and 3-D had two and four students respectively, and Computer Science A had one student.
Patricia Laughlin teaches Spanish AP as well as Spanish III, and shared that the Spanish department vertically teaches the curriculum through the four progressive courses to prepare them to be successful in the AP course. She has attended professional development workshops and implements the successful theories in the Spanish program. “It is great we offer this program so students can make friends from another culture and develop relationships, as well as aid in translation. This success is a gain for the whole department,” Laughlin states.
The Spanish AP test consists of two parts: 1) Comprehension - understand Spanish writing such as an invitation or literature excerpt, and 2) Production - writing a formal letter and an essay, as well as two audio components where the student is recorded in conversation.
The two Studio Art AP classes are structured differently, as each student has to send in 24 pieces of artwork completed in one semester. Each student structures the portfolios based on a theme that interests them, such as: black and white silhouettes that tells a narrative, abstract facial features in patterns, or pointillism with vases. Much of the portfolio is submitted digitally through pictures, but some in the 2D class are actually sent in to the AP reviewers. Art AP students must be a senior and have taken four art classes before enrolling.
Jessica Evans, a Mt. Vernon High School art teacher who is in her second year of teaching AP Art classes stated, “I am thrilled and proud of my students, that each of them achieved passing grades and will be able to receive the college credit.”
Other Mt. Vernon High School courses that had at least 75% passing include English Language and Composition, European History, and United States Government and Politics.