Nipmuc High sees growth in AP courses


By Mike Gleason/Daily News staff; Milford Daily News

MENDON-UPTON — The Nipmuc Regional High School has seen an increase in the enrollment of its Advanced Placement (AP) classes and performance in the AP exams, according to district officials. AP courses, overseen by the College Board, offer high school students the opportunity to earn college credit. The school offers 11 such courses.

According to a presentation by Nipmuc Principal John Clements, enrollment in AP classes has grown from 99 in 2008 to 151 in 2012. During the same time frame, the percentage of those students scoring three or above on AP exams increased from 63.6 percent to 74.8 percent.

According to Clements, last year, the school had 21 "AP scholars," or students who scored higher than three on more than three AP exams (the exams are graded on a five-point scale, with three being the minimum to receive college credit).

Superintendent Joseph Maruszczak said the school has been promoting the AP culture to encourage additional enrollment.

"We've been opening up access to the courses and explaining in-depth what's expected of AP students," he said. "The school has cultivated a desire in kids to take the classes, and a huge amount of credit goes to the teachers."

Maruszczak said the district was trying to be more inclusive with the courses.

"Traditionally, AP coursework was reserved to the top 10 percent of a class," he said. "We're trying to create a culture so all kids interested in the challenge can access the coursework."

Clements said, in the presentation, that the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative has provided support for the school's AP programs.

Maruszczak said the district received a three-year, $50,000 grant from the initiative.

"It provides professional development to our teachers to give them additional expertise, and also pays for Saturday study cram sessions," he said.

Maruszczak said the initiative supports the school's math, science and English language arts AP courses.

According to Clements, the school's AP teachers receive a week of training during the summer and four professional development sessions during the year as part of the initiative's support.

"They've also helped us get some programs off the ground," Maruszczak said. "Last year was the first year we'd offered environmental science, and this year we'll be offering statistics."

The result, Maruszczak said, is students who are better-prepared for college.

"It gives our kids a competitive advantage when filling out college applications," he said. "I think it's a testimony to the school's teachers and students."