A bit beyond advanced for this crop of AP students

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01/31/2014 7:00 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mattituck High School seniors (from left) Christine Bieber, Helen Chen, Clay Davis and Kyra Martin work with a helix model in the school’s library Tuesday.

Mattituck High School had the strongest Advanced Placement scores in the district’s history during the 2012-13 school year, according to a new report.

The College Board, an international not-for-profit group that offers both AP and SAT programs to help prepare students for college, recently released to schools the latest AP results.

While students who achieve a score of 3 or higher on a five-point scale can earn credits at SUNY colleges, most other colleges require a score of 4 or better to give credit.

Principal Shawn Petretti said on the 283 exams taken in Mattituck last year, 84 percent of students scored a 3 or better. Statewide, about 70 percent of students who took the exams scored a 3 or better, he said.

Mattituck’s scores also reflect a significant increase since 2009, when 64 percent of the 278 exams taken earned a 3 or above, he added.

“College- and career-ready is not a new goal for Mattituck,” Mr. Petretti said. “It’s something we’ve always strived for. These departments work very collaboratively together.”

A group of seniors interviewed Tuesday, who took AP exams in English, biology and history last school year, all attributed their high test scores to the study skills they’ve developed as lifelong students in the Mattituck-Cutchogue district.

AP teachers Janine Ruland and Amanda Barney said they work together to create lesson plans and gave much credit also to the Class of 2014, which they described as an “over-achieving bunch” that will also graduate in the district’s 100th commencement ceremony this June.

Ms. Barney, who teaches AP English, Language & Composition and is also a professional development specialist for the district, said collaborative teaching across grades and subjects is a big contributing factor to the school’s academic achievement.

“Our program starts at Cutchogue East,” she said. “Those early literacy skills come all the way up from there and impact my courses. We’re all connected.”

This is Ms. Ruland’s second year teaching AP biology in Mattituck. She said she’s introduced students to a new way of learning beyond reading a textbook through software called Principles of Life. The software includes a digital platform that gives students access to digital studying materials, like flash cards and science videos.

Student Clay Davis said he enjoys the software’s testing component because it allows students to find out what they’re struggling with and better prepares them for the AP exam.

He recently found out he has been accepted into the single school he applied to, Cornell University, where he plans to study biology.

Classmates Christine Bieber and Kyra Martin said they believe avoiding procrastination and balancing their studies with social actives is a big help in being better prepared for AP exams.

Junior year is the hardest year, Christine said, because that’s when students stress the most about grades and applying colleges. But, she said, being diligent about studying will go a long way.

“Doing the work you were given as soon as possible and as thoroughly as possible really helps,” Christine said.

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