Lincoln tops state on AP exams

Lincoln tops state on AP exams

LINCOLN – Students in Lincoln High School’s Class of 2018 earned the highest Advanced Placement Exam pass rate in the state of Rhode Island.

Among the Lincoln students in the “2015 cohort” who sat for AP exams, 91 percent passed with a three or higher on a five-point scale. By contrast, the second-highest ranking school for its pass/fail rate was Barrington High School, with 88 percent of students passing. Statewide, only 54 percent of AP exams were passing scores. The top 10 highest passing percentages across the state are as follows:

• Lincoln, 91 percent

• Barrington, 88 percent

• East Greenwich, 86 percent

• Cranston East and Exeter-West Greenwich Regional, 76 percent

• Middletown and North Kingstown, 73 percent

• Portsmouth and North Smithfield, 71 percent

• Burrillville, 70

• South Kingstown, 64

• Coventry, 63

• Scituate, 61

Locally, 58 percent of students in Smithfield passed the exam, 53 percent passed in North Providence and 51 percent passed in Cumberland. Woonsocket High and Pawtucket’s Tolman High had a pass rate of 23 percent, while Shea in Pawtucket saw a pass rate of 18 percent.

Lincoln High School Principal Kevin McNamara said at LHS, access to and success in AP courses is one of their “hallmarks” as a comprehensive public high school, noting that The College Board – the entity adminstering the exams – recognized LHS in 2014 and 2015 for its increases in both test scores and the number of exams taken by students.

McNamara, who said he’s very proud of the school’s state-best passing rate, believes many factors played into the success of the students at LHS, “not the least of which is the dedication of the AP teachers.”

“Our AP teachers work hard to ensure that students are prepared for the exams. From meaningful and rigorous in-class work to after school/weekend prep sessions, the teachers take their students performances on the test seriously and do everything they can to get them ready,” McNamara said.

The school also starts its students early, in ninth grade, with human geography courses, according to McNamara, which offer students a chance to become acclimated with the AP “world” from the start of their high school career. “Our students have done well on this exam, and that helps to build their confidence as they take exams in subsequent years,” McNamara explained.

Lincoln has also restructured its schedule of AP offerings. For example, in the school’s English department, seniors enroll in AP literature and composition while juniors take AP language and composition, so the two courses do not compete for the same pool of students during their senior year.

The final piece of the puzzle, said McNamara, is “the element of pride in succeeding on the exams.”

“In many courses, students know that those that came before did very well, and they want to live up to that expectation. This is especially true in math department chairman Paul Ruhle’s AP calculus AB and calculus BC program. In the first year of calculus BC, 14 of the 15 students in the class scored a five and one scored a four. In 2018, that success was nearly equaled, with nine of the 11 students scoring a five (one scoring a three and one scoring a four, all considered passing scores).

Supt. Larry Filippelli said he doesn’t take responsibility for the success of the students at LHS, shining a spotlight instead on McNamara and his administration’s efforts to improve student performance.

“I am immensely proud of the teachers, students and school administration that made LHS number one in AP passage rate for the state of Rhode Island, besting both Barrington High and East Greenwich High. That is a significant achievement for our high school and affirms my belief that Lincoln Public Schools are continuing to grow to greatness and have what it takes to compete with the best in the state.”