Ten Boothbay Region High School students placed a 3 or better on their Advanced Placement (AP) calculus exams last spring. Scores of 3, 4 or 5 – 5 being the highest – mean potential college course credits. Teacher Ben Powell said the students averaged a 4, considered to be an A-, B+ or a B in the college course grade equivalent.
Said Powell, “This is actually the second year in a row that all of our students have passed. Last year we had 10 students pass as well … Two of our students actually had to end up taking the exam twice because when they submitted their first exam the files either didn't go through or were corrupted.”
Because remote learning began in March, the amount of material to cover for students to be ready for the exam was staggering, Powell said. Students continued meeting via a virtual classroom during normal class time for four days a week and attendance was virtually 100%, he said.
Senior Hali Goodwin said hitting all the learning topics and getting a month of studying in was extremely hard, especially when the sudden move to online testing and the customary written practice exams did not exactly mesh.
“Studying advanced math topics is difficult enough, but doing it without a proper schooling environment and without your peers working alongside you was very difficult,” said Goodwin. “Having a proper school environment is extremely important for concentration, motivation, and learning in general.”
Junior Nathan Chatterton said remote learning has proven to be one of the least efficient ways to learn and it stacked extra challenges on top of an already stressful time. Nonetheless, Chatterton said online classes had a smooth start and Powell approached the lecture-based classes as he would in the classroom, which helped students immensely.
Said Chatterton, “This familiarity helped me stay on track and not lose focus which had been an issue in some of my other classes … Mr. Powell did a great job of organizing class dates and times for a consistent class schedule that added structure and rigidity to my learning … When it came time to study on my own, I found myself distracted by the news and unmotivated to do many of the things I needed to study, but it managed to get me a 5 on the AP Calc BC exam thanks to Mr. Powell.”
BRHS Principal Tricia Campbell said modified exams were only the tip of the iceberg of stress being put on students and AP teachers. Students also had to take the tests with stricter time limits, often relying on internet connectivity from home or public locations. Said Campbell, “This is an extraordinary accomplishment. Bravo to all students who sat for the Advance Placement exams and gave their best.”
Superintendent Keith Laser said BRHS students’ success on the AP exams stems from the hard work they and their teachers had put in all semester. “This is what good schools can accomplish staffed with great teachers and committed and motivated and hard-working students. I could not be prouder.”
Powell believes his students did so well because they were committed to learning and to being ready for the exam since the day they were sent home. “I'm extremely proud of all of them. They worked hard all year and it clearly paid off … Once they knew they still had an opportunity to take the exam and get credit, they weren't going to let anything stop them.”