As the number of high school students enrolled in advanced placement courses across the state has risen over the past few years, Maryville High School's AP totals have consistently grown smaller.
That is until now. Last year, MHS only offered advanced-placement calculus. But a literature and composition course was added for 2012-'13.
The lit class was also offered in 2010-'11, but only one student enrolled.
For the 2012-'13 year, there are 21 students in the calculus class, and eight in the English class.
Students have three choices when it comes to advanced placement. They can score high enough on an AP exam to earn college credit. They can pass an AP class for credit at a college or university that will accept such work. Or they can take the course for dual credit at both the high school and an accepting college or university.
Over the past three years, only nine, four and three students respectively opted to take the advanced placement exam.
According to junior/senior counselor Becky Houtchens, students typically favor the exam option if they plan to attend a college that will not necessarily accept AP course credits.
With the addition of the English class, Houtchens believes the number of students seeking to take the AP exam will rise.
"I anticipate that six of the the eight (English students) will take the AP test in May," Houtchens said. "We'll see a climb in numbers this year because we have more students who are looking into out-of-state colleges."
The reason for the drop in numbers during previous years was because students chose not to take the advanced placement exam in favor of earning dual credits or credits at an accepting college.
This was due to various difficulties in transferring credits to an out-of-state college or university.
"I don't have great concern about the drop in the number of students testing over the past two years," Houtchens said. "Nearly all of the students who don't take the AP test are choosing to take the class for dual credit through Northwest Missouri State University."
The drive to get students to take advanced placement courses to prepare for post-secondary education is yet another facet of Missouri's Top 10 by 20 initiative. The goal is for the state to become one of the top-10 performing states in education by 2020.
According to the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, almost 25,000 students took AP exams statewide in 2011-'12, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year. Over the last five years, the number of students taking the test has increased by 39 percent.
Of those, more than 60 percent scored a three (out of five) or higher, the number that most colleges and universities set as the minimum to earn credits.
Page 2 of 2 - Though that increase may make MHS look pale in comparison, the percentage of Maryville students who choose to take the exam and score at least a three exceeds the state average.
Houtchens said that the fluctuation in these numbers is normal, and that the addition of another class will help add to AP enrollment, whether students take the courses for college or dual credit or choose to take the exam.
"Either way, they are getting an advanced class and likely earning college credit," Houtchens said. "I believe the number of students taking the AP test will rise and fall each year depending on the needs of the particular students."