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Levy County students have more Advanced Placement options this year than ever before to ready them for college, says Levy County School District Director of Curriculum Patrick Wnek.
“We believe that by providing more AP courses, students will be better prepared for college,” he said.
“Eighty percent of students say they want to go to college,” Wnek said. “In these rural areas – many of them will be first generation. AP courses will prepare them.”
Last year, Chiefland High School only offered AP Biology to its students.
This year the school has added AP English Language and Composition, AP World History and AP Calculus.
“These advanced classes are very similar to college classes,” said CHS Assistant Principal Matt McLelland. “The AP depth and content… will better prepare students for the college environment.”
AP classes give students the opportunity to earn dual credit, McLelland said.
“With the end of the year exam, they gain college credit as well as the high school credit they get for the class.” Students must pass the exam with a three out of five to receive three college credit hours for the course, and those who score a five can get six credit hours, he said.
Grade levels vary for students taking the courses, McLelland said. AP World History, for example, is mainly comprised of sophomores. Juniors are taking English, and seniors Calculus. Biology is a mixture of 11th and 12th-graders. Each AP class at CHS has about 20-25 students, with the exception for Biology, which had about 10, according district records.
McLelland said CHS students also have other choices for advanced study. The school offers honors courses in ninth and 10-grade English, American History and Biology, among others.
Students have access to the dual enrollment program as well. Central Florida Community College, located across the street from CHS’s campus, offers students classes in subjects such as English, Math, Humanities and College Success.
“Offering more AP classes is not a competition with dual enrollment,” Wnek said at the district office. “We’ve just expanded the opportunities.”
Williston High has previously offered only one AP course, as well: U.S. History. This year four more have been added to the schedule, including AP Biology, AP English Language and Composition, AP American Government and AP World History.
More than 50 WHS students are enrolled in AP World History, and more than 30 in AP Biology, calling for two sections of each course. The other AP classes at WHS have approximately 25-30 students each.
WHS Principal John Lott contributes the successful growth of the AP program in Levy County to the teachers, district and state.
“None of this would have been possible without the teachers,” he said. “The more rigorous the class, the more taxing on the teacher. They are a very important part in this. Without them, this would not work.”
Steve Masyada teaches AP U.S. History at WHS. Last year he had a student who scored a five on the end of the year exam. Depending on which college Zane O’Brien attends, Lott said, “he can get up to six college credits for scoring a five. UF will give him six if he chooses to go there. We are very proud of him – scoring a five is difficult.”
Masyada is a great teacher, Lott said. “He’s been teaching the class for the last two years and his success is one of the reason’s why we chose to expand the program so much.”
Lott said there is a lot of support from the district, as well as the state recognizing the needs of rural communities. “These classes are expensive. The book for U.S. History costs over $120.” Equipment and supplies to set up the AP Biology lab for one class was more than $7000, he said. “We would not be able to do that without the support of the district and from the state.”
“To put our kids on a level playing field with other districts we need to offer classes like this,” Lott said. “If this goes well – we hope to expand some more.”
AP courses have not taken the place of other advanced classes at Williston.
“We’re still offering three classes of dual enrollment on our campus – and we have a couple students fulltime at the CFCC campus in Ocala,” Lott said.
“We didn’t want to hinder the very successful dual enrollment program,” Lott said. “So we specifically tried to create classes that would not be in direct competition with dual enrollment. For example that’s why we chose English Language and not English Literature.”
Bronson High is offering AP English Language and Composition, and AP English Literature and Composition. Approximately 30 students are enrolled in one of those classes. BHS students also have access to dual enrollment through Santa Fe College at the Davis Center in Archer.
Cedar Key School is offering AP English Language and Composition. Six students are enrolled. “CKS is going to have lower numbers because their class sizes are smaller,” Wnek said.
The Advanced Placement Program is regulated by College Bound, a not-for-profit membership association. AP classes are taught by the individual school’s teachers. Each class is modeled from a similar college course and the syllabus, or course plan, must be reviewed and approved by college faculty through College Bound.
During the summer, the district sent teachers to a workshop for syllabus training. Two teachers also traveled on scholarship to the College Bound Institute for a conference on AP courses. A representative from College Bound also visited Levy County to speak with principals about the program and it’s expectations.
“AP is about college readiness and rigor of the curriculum,” Wnek said. “If 80 percent of students want to attend college, they have to be prepared for the challenges and rigor at that level.”
Levy County AP classes at a glance
BHS AP English Language and Composition
AP English Literature and Composition
CHS AP Biology
AP English Language and Composition
AP World History
CKS AP English Language and Composition
WHS AP American Government
AP Biology (two sessions)
AP English Language and Composition
AP U.S. History
AP World History (two sessions)