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Private schools fare well on AP exams
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Forsyth County News


The Georgia Department of Education recently honored schools from across the state for top performances on Advanced Placement, or AP, tests.

While the state report didn’t include private schools, that doesn’t mean the ones in Forsyth County are not doing well.

In fact, students from Pinecrest Academy are excelling on AP tests, officials say.

Principal John Tarpley estimated nearly half of Pinecrest's high school students are enrolled in at least one AP course, and the most recent results showed 85 percent of students passed their AP exams.

In AP European history, studio art and Spanish literature, 100 percent of Pinecrest students passed the exam.

The AP exams are administered by the College Board. College credit may be given for scores of 3, 4 or 5.

“Our students are diligent, they want to be in AP classes and they tend to do well,” Tarpley said. “This is due not only to the students, but to our highly trained AP teachers.

“As principal, I am of course gratified by the high pass rate that we have achieved.”

At Covenant Christian Academy, 10 of the school's 13 high school seniors are enrolled in the school’s only AP class, English literature and composition.

The participation is unusually high and double that of last year, said Karla Friday, middle and high school administrator.

“It’s very rigorous. They start reading in the summer before the year starts,” she said. “We do have a very good return on grades on [exams].

"We generally score in the 4s and 5s ... I don’t remember a time that we’ve had anything under a 3.

Friendship Christian School doesn’t track results from exams, which students take on their own.

Last year, the school offered its first AP U.S. History course, said Butch Quinn, dean of students, who also teaches various history classes in middle and high school.

About nine students participated, mostly seniors and juniors. While that may not sound like many, Quinn said Friendship's high school enrollment is only about 20 students.

“Last year was the first time the AP class was taught,” he said. “The students, their averages were somewhere around a 90 percent plus on the testing.

“We’ll do it about every other year because of the class sizes.”

Horizon Christian Academy also offers AP courses for its high school students, though officials could not be reached for comment last week.

To qualify as a state AP merit school based on the National Advanced Placement Report for the class of 2010, at least 20 percent of students had to take AP exams, and at least half had to pass.

At Pinecrest, Tarpley said student achievement is linked to its goal as a college preparatory high school. Students are prepared to meet admission standards set by the state university system.

He also credited parent involvement.

“We look to parents, who are financing a private education for their child, to stay closely involved in the academic process,” he said.

“This pays great dividends in the classroom as the teachers get to know the parents, and know that parents are being supportive of their efforts in the home.”