White River board get status report on advanced placement program

The White River High School advanced placement program has grown and Principal Mike Hagadone, teachers and students provided the White River School Board with a glimpse of its history, its current status and what it offers to those who teach it and those on the learning end.

Advanced placement classes are college-level courses and exams offered at the high school level. Aside from getting a jump start on the college learning process, students can earn college credit.

More than 3,600 colleges and universities annually receive AP Exam scores. More than 90 percent of four-year colleges in the United States provide credit for qualifying scores.

During the 2006-07 school year, White River High School offered six AP classes that catered to 65 students, Hagadone told the board at its regular meeting Dec. 9.

This year, 314 students are enrolled in at least one of the school’s nine offerings – biology, chemistry, U.S. history, environmental science, government, statistics, calculus, psychology and English. Hagadone noted those numbers do not take into account the students who are taking more than one AP course.

Last year, he said, 177 White River students took 235 AP exams with a number of those earning high honors.

“As you can see, over time we’ve grown exponentially,” Hagadone said.

Hagadone said he was proud of the teachers and students involved in the program.

“The climate is changing,” WRHS English teacher Karen Fugate said. She said upperclassmen are now discussing their classes and what colleges they plan to attend and underclassman are listening. “They hear it and it’s contagious,” she said.

Teachers said they are also seeing the non-traditional AP student, the everyday student, stepping up to meet the challenge.

“I see all types of students, and students who would have never, never taken an AP class,” psychology teacher Dianne Campbell said.

A few of the students who spoke said they wanted to be pushed academically. Others said they were less concerned about their grades and more interested in the advanced learning the courses provide.

The classes are more work for students. Students are offered additional help outside of class time and teachers host a meeting at the beginning of the school year to explain the program to parents.

At the conclusion of each program, students can take the AP exam. Hagadone said there is a cost to the exam, about $90. He said there are a few scholarships available to help students who may not be able to meet the fee requirement.

In other business, the board:

• welcomed and swore in recently-elected members Cassie Pearson and Mike Jansen and re-elected member Denise Vogel. The board then elected Vogel to continue as its president. Susan McGuire was elected vice president. Jean Lacy will serve as the board’s legislative representative and Jansen was named the board’s Washington Interscholastic Activities Association representative.

• learned the district is featured in the recently-released book “Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap: Whatever It Takes,” a Solution Tree publication written by Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker and Gayle Karhanek.

It is the sequel to the best-selling “Whatever It Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don’t Learn.”

The authors examined schools and districts across North America that have successfully gone from traditional cultures to Professional Learning Communities.

The district will also be featured in the National Staff Development Council’s National Journal of Staff Development.

• announced winter break begins Monday and will continue through Jan. 3.

• set its next meeting for 6 p.m. Jan. 13 in the board conference room.

• reacted to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget announcement earlier in the day. District Business Manager Mona Moan said the district could be looking at substantial losses in revenue again.

“We planned for a lot of this knowing what happened to us a year ago,” Superintendent Tom Lockyer told the board.

• accepted a leave of absence from teacher Diane Jennings.

• hired child care assistant Emily Hinkle, for one year only, and bus driver Robert Howie.

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