Valley Stream’s high schools earn recognition
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A student can take an AP course as early as 10th grade with world history. There are numerous offerings in social studies, math and science, with college-level classes available in English, math and music, as well. Troisi said that nearly decade ago, a decision was made to establish AP classes as the honors-level course for a subject. He said the Advanced Placement designation is widely-recognized and the rigor of courses is consistent from district to district.
Honors-level courses at the junior high level have been made more challenging, Troisi explained, to prepare students for the AP classes they will take in high school.
About one-third of students at each of the three schools take AP courses. Not only are many students taking the tests, but they are doing well. This year, the district honored 274 Advanced Placement Scholars, which means they scored at least a 3 out of 5 on a minimum of three tests. “That number over the past decade has more than doubled,” Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich said.
The district ensures that students can take these tests. The cost for one exam is $86, which is typically paid by the students. But if cost is factor, the district does have federal funds available to make sure every child can take every test they desire. “We can’t let economics be a barrier,” Heidenreich said. “You could have kids taking four or five of these exams and it gets expensive.”
Central High School Principal Dr. Joseph Pompilio said department leaders talk to prospective AP students about the expectations and demands of these courses. Parents and guidance counselors also play a big role in deciding in an AP class is right for a student.
Part of what makes an AP course successful is having the right teacher, the administrators explained. When teaching an AP course for the first time, educators are sent to a workshop the summer before. They also must send a syllabus to the College Board, which administers the AP tests, for approval.
Pompilio said it is important to have a teacher that is not only knowledgeable about the subject, but relates positively with their students. The high expectations require a classroom culture of support and encouragement, he explained.