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Frisco ISD is putting high school students on the path to success, while also saving students and their families hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in college tuition.
Nearly 50 percent of current juniors and seniors are enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement (AP) course.
Last spring, 75 percent of FISD students who took an AP Exam scored a three or better. In most cases, a student who scores a four or five will receive college credit for the course, though policies vary by college or university.
In addition, 19 percent of this year’s seniors are taking dual credit courses offered in partnership with Collin College. If students pass the class, they receive both high school and college credit.
“There’s no doubt advanced placement and dual credit courses can have a tremendous impact on students who are planning and saving for college,” said Frisco ISD Director of Student Improvement Kenny Chandler. “But these classes also drive student achievement and help ensure our graduates are prepared for the challenges of college and career.”
Liberty High School senior Shivam Gupta is a prime example. He loaded his schedule with AP classes across several subjects beginning his sophomore year.
“I take AP mostly for the rigorous courses because I think they will challenge me for college,” he said. “They offer the right environment where you can succeed. It’s a good environment to learn in.”
Gupta, who plans to major in finance this fall at the University of Texas at Austin, is just one of thousands of FISD students taking AP Exams this month.
“If I can get rid of a lot of those freshman classes, I’m saving a lot of money and a lot of time,” he said.
District wide, more than 3,200 students enrolled in nearly 7,000 AP courses this school year.
At Liberty alone, students are participating in more than 1,200 AP Exams. About 60 percent of the school’s 2,000 students chose to enroll in at least one of the 21 Advanced Placement courses offered.
“Our teachers do a great job of recruiting and identifying the students,” said Liberty Principal John Burdett. “We want to challenge those students who have the capability and help ease the transition to college or even work.”
AP courses have helped create an environment where students can persevere, work hard and test their abilities in a safe and comfortable setting. Almost 90 percent of Liberty students who take an AP course enroll in another the following year.
“Success breeds success,” Burdett said. “It builds confidence and that’s what happens when students get into these classes and succeed.”
Students are extremely motivated, and often times positive peer pressure encourages additional students to take AP classes.
“They want to do it,” said Natevidad Casas, who teaches advanced AP math classes at Liberty. “They know that they need to know the material and pass the AP Exam in order to get credit.”
Frisco ISD educators are there to help students every step of the way. Teachers offer tutorials and mock exams to help students get ready.
The District also requires all AP and Pre-AP teachers to attend week-long trainings in the summer that are specific to the courses they teach. A majority of teachers participate in additional professional development to stay current on new materials and teaching strategies throughout their tenure. All of the Summer Institutes are endorsed by the College Board, the organization that oversees the Advanced Placement testing program.
“They do prepare you really well,” said Liberty senior Christine Park. “If you want to do well on the exams, they will give you all the resources you need.”
It’s just a small part of Frisco ISD’s commitment to providing all students with opportunities to succeed in college, career and life.
“It starts in elementary school and middle school,” Burdett said. “The design of the curriculum, high expectations, all of that prepares our students and sets the foundation. High school is just the culmination of all of our efforts.”