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Warren officials to expand AP course offerings

By M.K. Luther - mkluther@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County Public Schools officials hope expanding the system's advanced-placement course offerings will improve the overall quality of the curriculum.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Greg Drescher presented the 2011-12 program of studies to the Warren County School Board on Thursday night.

Drescher said public schools are seeing a statewide push for heightened "rigor" in course curriculums, with an increased emphasis on advanced placement courses.

In the advanced placement, or AP, program, pupils take college-level courses while in high school. Pupils in AP courses take national tests that can count toward college credit, according to the program of studies.

The district also has set a goal of keeping pupils competitive, and making sure the curriculum prepares graduates to go on to a college or university, Drescher said.

"We believe that one indicator for the level of rigor in our schools is the number of advanced placement courses that are offered and the number of students successfully completing AP," Drescher said.

Currently, Warren County schools offers seven advanced placement courses, Drescher said.

Next year, an advanced placement course for English language will be offered at the 11th-grade level. The school system would like to add an advanced placement world history course available in the 10th grade by 2013.

The quality of existing required courses also will be improved by the addition of the AP courses, Drescher said.

"The more we are able to do advanced placement, it kind of trickles down," Drescher said.

Vice Chairwoman Joanne Cherefko said the making sure prerequisite courses were up to par would ensure the success of advanced placement programs.

"We don't want [pupils] to enter and drop out because they don't feel prepared," Cherefko said. "The honors courses the year before have to be beefed up, as do all the courses -- so that when [the pupils] hit that AP course they are ready."

The school system also wants to improve the quality of the mathematics curriculum, and hopes to offer an advanced geometry course, Drescher said.

"The intended byproduct of offering another rigorous math course is the rigor of previous courses must also be raised," Drescher said.

The current AP program has been successful because teachers have encouraged pupils to enroll in advanced placement courses, and pupils have been willing to rise to the challenge, Drescher said. This year, 278 pupils are taking AP courses.

The 2011-12 program of studies also includes the standard or advanced diploma requirements for pupils graduating in 2014 , including the new graduation requirement for an economics and finance course, Drescher said.

A beginning theater and introduction to guitar course also will be offered at the middle school level, and the school system hopes to have culinary arts included in the career and technical education curriculum again next year.

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