COVENTRY — Despite the obstacles thrown in their paths over the last few months of school, students at Coventry High School excelled on the College Board’s Advanced Placement exams compared to their peers around the globe.
“We’re extremely happy,” Donna Beaudoin, director of student services at Coventry High School, said Monday of this year’s AP exam scores, adding that Coventry's test-takers, most of them juniors and seniors, scored higher in 2020 than they have in the last five years.
“We continue to be amazed by how well the kids in the class of 2020 did, given all of the extreme mixed variables that they had,” Beaudoin added. “We’re super proud of them.”
Exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with a score of 3 designating the student as "qualified" in the given subject, according to the College Board website. Earning a 3 or high can boost a college application, and many U.S. colleges allow students who in high school received at least a 3 on an AP exam to skip the equivalent course.
“Colleges are looking for kids who take Advanced Placement classes,” Beaudoin said. “The AP exam can be compared to all other school districts, because all other kids take the same test. It’s really one of the only consistent things that colleges have to compare our kids to all other kids around the world.”
Advanced Placement students in Coventry this year scored well above students statewide and globally in 10 out of the 14 subjects they were tested in. One-hundred-twenty-one Coventry students earned a score of 3 or better, out of 147 students who took AP exams, and the school’s average weighted score on the tests was 3.5.
“We were thrilled with that,” Beaudoin said, adding that 275 tests were taken in total.
On the World History exam, 100 percent of the Coventry students who took it scored a 3 or better, compared to 65.9 percent statewide; 93.8 percent of Coventry students scored at least a 3 in U.S. History, while across Rhode Island 65.4 percent of students scored that well; 95 percent of Coventry students scored a 3 or higher in Statistics, compared to 55 percent statewide; 86.7 percent of the town’s Calculus exam-takers scored at least a 3, while 62.5 percent of students statewide scored that high.
The exams were given online in May, and looked a lot different than they usually do, Beaudoin said.
AP exams typically include both multiple choice and free response sections. But this year, since students took them from home, exams consisted entirely of essay questions. The tests were also significantly shorter than they would otherwise have been, Beaudoin added.
“I’m sure that made a difference,” she said. “But, again, every student in the world who took that [AP course] took the same test.”
Coventry Public Schools for the last several years has supported an AP initiative, Beaudoin said, with students encouraged to take Advanced Placement classes and teachers given training specific to teaching the courses. And as part of the school improvement team, an AP subcommittee has been helping teachers out, as well.
The school has also purchased an online learning program called Albert, which offers resources for AP students.
“I think all of those things together [have attributed to the high AP results],” Beaudoin said. “But I really think it was the district’s support for the AP initiative, pushing more kids to take the classes, that has really boosted us.”
Colleges want to see that high schools are offering rigorous courses, Beaudoin added, so the more AP courses a school offers, the stronger it looks.
“It makes our students stronger, as well,” she said.
With so many programs and pathways offered to Coventry High School students, Beaudoin added that it’s good to see that so many are taking AP courses and excelling in them. The hope, she added, is that the number of students taking AP exams will continue to grow.
In the coming school year, 163 Coventry students have enrolled in AP classes, and 285 exams will be taken.
Coventry Supt. Craig Levis said last week he was “ecstatic” to see this year’s AP scores, adding that they demonstrate the powerful relationships between Coventry students and teachers.
“It goes back to the relationships our teachers have with our students, our students have with our teachers,” Levis said. “Without it, you wouldn’t see those types of outcomes.”
He added that the students and their families should be “extremely proud.”
“A lot of these AP students struggled like other students did, yet they persevered,” Levis said. “These are extremely rigorous courses that require a lot of in-depth instruction. To be forced to do this from a distance platform — I’m just so impressed with our students and our educators.”