CUMMING -- All five of Forsyth County’s public high schools were recently named as by the state as AP STEM and AP STEM Achievement Schools for their performances on science and math Advanced Placement courses.
STEM, short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, has been a key focus toward career development for students in Forsyth and the state.
“I’m very pleased,” said Kelly Price, system director of academic standards. “To have exceeded a performance standard that’s so high, we’re very proud of that.
“Typically when you have a high population taking the test, it makes it harder to achieve. So we’re one of those really positive situations where even as our participation rate is high, we continue to increase.”
To be named an AP STEM School, schools must have students testing in at least two AP math and two AP science courses. But to be an AP STEM Achievement School, 40 percent of the students who take those exams must earn a 3 or higher. Scores of a 3, 4, or 5 earn college credit.
Price said the school system offers “almost a full spread of STEM courses,” helping students prepare for the number of AP tests. It’s important to make sure students are able to stay ahead in the “overall trend in what they’re seeing in career movement.”
“A lot of the department of labor reports and article releases talk about the STEM fields,” Price said. “That’s where the big money-making careers are.”
In addition to STEM, four of Forsyth’s five high schools also were named as AP Merit Schools, a designation given to those where at least 20 percent of students take AP exams and at least half earn a score of 3 or higher.
North Forsyth High School was the only school not to earn the recognition this year, which Principal Beth Hebert attributed to two challenges.
“We have a much higher dual enrollment rate than the other county schools,” she said. “These students are taking college classes in lieu of an AP course. We have really increased the number of students enrolled in post-secondary classes.”
While North will continue to encourage students to sign up for college courses, Hebert said it also will address the second AP Merit challenge, exam funding.
According to Price, AP exams run about $90 each. And while many North students take the class, Hebert said it’s a struggle for some to cover the exam cost.