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Chamberlain expands AP classes

To stay competitive with magnet schools, the high school will offer more advanced placement courses.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001

NORTH TAMPA -- Seeking to offer a more rigorous academic program and retain some students who might otherwise choose magnet schools, Chamberlain High School is beefing up its advanced placement offerings and initiating an AP Scholars Program.

Advanced placement classes expose students to college-level instruction and, if they pass College Board AP exams, they can earn college credit.

Starting in August, with a teacher's recommendation, students will be able to select from 17 AP classes. In addition to choices that meet specific graduation requirements, such as English, history or economics, they will be offered AP electives such as calculus, statistics, psychology, biology, chemistry, physics and Spanish. Other offerings include studio art, music theory and computer science.

Those courses will be further enhanced by an AP Scholars Program that includes pre-AP courses for grades 9 and 10. Successful completion of that program gives students special recognition from the College Board, which can help with college admissions.

"I don't know of any other public school in the county with as many AP classes," said Barbara Ramsey, Chamberlain's AP Scholars Program Coordinator.

"We offer students more flexibility than some magnet programs, such as the International Baccalaureate," she said. "Our curriculum offers more choice, so a math kid can take more calculus instead of a class that might be of less interest, such as psychology."

Ramsey said that Chamberlain was motivated by the success of magnet programs such as the IB program at Hillsborough High School. "We want to offer kids a reason to stay at Chamberlain," she said. "We want them to feel they can fulfill their academic needs in their own neighborhood."

Chamberlain junior Tim Miller takes AP classes for the challenge. "I like learning, and other classes were too easy," he said. "In AP classes we cover more stuff -- it's not all worksheets."

This year Miller enrolled in three AP classes. Next year he will take more with an eye toward his future plans.

"These are college level classes," he said. "And they're free in high school."

With each AP class worth an additional 0.08 of a point, Miller hopes to graduate with a 5.7 GPA, an achievement that will likely earn him a full scholarship to the college of his choice. And his AP credits might allow him to start at the sophomore level.

Ramsey feels the success of the AP Scholars Program will ride on how well students are prepared before they reach high school. To that end, she has organized teams of middle and high school teachers to help prepare younger students for the more rigorous AP curriculum.

"We have teams of five or six teachers in each subject area," she said. "We have eight on the science team. They're really gung ho."

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