A record-number of district students earned A.P. scholar designation last year, including students from North High School, pictured.
“I’ve always believed that kids will meet the bar and adults have to set it high,” said Dr. Bill Heidenreich, superintendent of the Valley Stream Central High School District. “When we do that, they rise to that bar.”
Over the past six years, the number of Advanced Placement scholars in the district has jumped by 120 — 286 students received the distinction in 2013. District administrators attribute the rise to students’ hard work and receptiveness to a more intense workload.
“It shows that if you challenge kids to take most rigorous courses, they’ll rise to the occasion,” Heidenreich said.
Dozens of students at three award levels — A.P. Scholar, A.P. Scholar with Honor and A.P. Scholar with Distinction — were recognized at last week’s Board of Education meeting. A large number of students honorees graduated in June.
Board President Elise Antonelli said she wasn’t surprised that the district had an increase in A.P. scholars, but was taken back by the steep climb over the past few years. “I feel very strongly,” she said, “that the board, in concert with the community, must establish goals that identify academic rigor as a cornerstone of our educational offering.”
Last week, the school board unanimously approved a new course that will start next school year: A.P. Human Geography. It will touch on a variety of topics and issues, including global warming, and will be the district’s 22nd A.P. course.
Antonelli said that the board and the district must continue to explore new topics of study for students and provide professional development for teachers. “Increased A.P. enrollment, increased achievement on A.P. exams, increased self-esteem of our students and increased preparedness for college and career will be offshoots of this emphasis,” she said.
Dr. Thomas Troisi, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said that students are accepting the challenge of a tougher workload because college admissions have become increasingly competitive. District guidance counselors meet with students and parents to emphasize the importance of a strong transcript, he added.