Celebrating Achievement: AP Event Acknowledges Some of PB’s Hardest Working Students

Caitlyn Neils, Center Editor

Last school year, Paint Branch students took over 1100 AP exams in a wide array of courses. While these test numbers reveal a small drop from the previous year (from 1223 to 1179), they still represent a strong representation of challenging coursework for PB students.
Each year, the College Board honors students for their performance on the AP exams, taking into consideration both their yearly scores and cumulative scores over their time in high school. After examining students’ performance, they present them with awards such as AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Honors, AP Scholar with Distinction and more. To celebrate this achievement, the Paint Branch administration congratulated these students on November 27th with an AP Award assembly, commending 82 students for their hard work. Friends and classmates were able to watch and cheer for those who achieved these lofty titles. However, for many in attendance, one question remained: what do they all mean?
When a student takes an AP exam in May, it is graded and then given a score between one and five, which is sent back in July. The College Board registers this score and tracks student achievement. The result is that after taking at least three exams, a person becomes eligible for the AP Scholar award, which is granted if they received a passing score of 3 on three of those exams.
The next level is the AP Scholar with Honors award which is given to students who have scored 3 on four exams and recorded an average score of 3.25 on all exams taken. Paint Branch boasts an average of 3.63 for the group of students who received this designation.
The final honor from College Board is the AP Scholars with Distinction award. Students earning this award received passing scores on at least five exams while recording at least a 3.5 average on all of their exams.
There is a final honor that students can earn from College Board called National AP Scholar award. This is normally awarded after graduation, and requires students to earn an average score of at least 4 on all exams taken, and earned a score of at least 4 on at least eight exams. From the class of 2019, only one student – David Burgess – earned this award, but in the class of 2020, there are ten Paint Branch’s students are in line to gain the title.
Overall, while fewer tests are being taken, students are excelling. Students seem to be working hard and earning higher scores as averages have jumped and more AP Scholars are named. For Paint Branch that means more opportunity. The school can pride itself on such a studious population, while the student body is able to explore harder classes and topics not explored in core classes.
Paint Branch offers 19 AP classes, but students are offered the flexibility to take any of the 38 exams that College Board offers. Additionally, students can take as many AP exams as they wish but PB AP Coordinator Mr. Gerber discourages this track because of the stress that can come with studying and the weight of multiple exams.
As for the celebration of AP student achievement, Mr. Gerber emphasizes that it is not only important to commend these students for their work, but encourage those who sat in the audience. “Most of the kids sitting on the stage probably thought no way I could get this, but it’s meant to show them that anything’s possible,” he affirms.
Mr. Gerber also notes that teachers gain a sense of accomplishment when students earn the score they were shooting for or were unsure they could achieve. “A teacher cherishes when a student does get that five,” Mr. Gerber explains, “or if the student was struggling, shot for a 2, and was satisfied with getting a 2, the teacher feels satisfied with themselves.”
The goal for PB, according to Mr. Gerber, is to get most, if not all Paint Branch Panthers to experience at least one AP course and challenge themselves.