Welcome to Advanced Placement in Jefferson County Schools!
What is Advanced Placement (AP)?
The Advanced Placement Program is an academic program of college-level courses and examinations for high school students. Advanced Placement (AP) is for academically driven students who plan to attend two- or four-year colleges/universities after high school. AP allows students to complete college level studies while in high school. Advanced Placement courses are accelerated in rigor and pace.
Should I (or my child) take AP?
Whether to take an AP course depends on what students want to do after high school and what kinds of subjects they like to learn.
Students who plan to go to two- or four-year colleges/universities should take at least one college-level course (AP and/or dual enrollment) while in high school.
Students who want to go to selective colleges/universities should consider taking most or all of the AP courses the school has to offer. See this article written by a college dean of admissions for more insight into how AP courses play a role in college admissions.
Why is it good to take AP classes?
Taking AP courses in high school helps students learn about the kind of work that is expected in college while receiving support and help from their high school teachers. If getting a feel for what college work is going to be like sounds important to you, you may want to take an AP class.
Usually, these classes have more interesting, challenging, and engaging lessons than general courses. Class discussions are often lively and delve deep into the subject matter. If learning like this interests you, you may want to take an AP class.
For students enrolled in an AP course, the GPA is weighted:
- A = 5 points
- B = 4 points
- C = 3 points
- D = 2 points
- F = 0 points
If earning an extra quality point for your GPA sounds good to you, you may want to take an AP class.
Students who earn a qualifying score on AP Exams could receive college credit hours or be able to skip over introductory courses. Please refer to the AP Exam Credit Policy for the college/university you are interested in attending for more detailed information. If earning college credit in high school sounds good to you, you may want to take an AP class.
What is difficult about taking AP classes?
The assignments and expectations in AP courses are more challenging than in general courses. If you are looking for easy work in your classes, you may not want to take an AP class.
Students may not earn “straight A’s” in AP courses (which is why we offer an extra quality point for the GPA). If not earning an A in every class sounds stressful or undesirable for you, you may not want to take an AP class.
What is expected of AP students?
Students are expected to do work independently and often have homework. Students should expect independent reading and writing assignments most days they are in the AP class. Homework can be expected most nights of the week.
Students in AP classes are expected to take the AP Exam for that course. Each AP Exam charges a fee, which the district subsidizes. Please ask your school’s AP Coordinator for more information about your school’s AP Exam fees.
Students are expected to stay in the AP class regardless of what grade they are earning. Students should not expect to get out of an AP class because of low/poor grades.
How does the whole college credit thing work?
Most colleges accept AP Exam scores for college credit. There are a couple different ways this works:
- Colleges give course credit for a qualifying score (see the AP Credit Policy for the school you are interested in for more information). Course credit means that students get credit for a particular college course (for example, Psychology 101) for their AP score. Students get to skip that course and take other courses instead.
- College give credit hours for a qualifying score. Credit hours means the school will give 3 or 6 hours of credit to the student, but the student may still have to take the introductory course at that school. This often happens when schools specialize in a particular subject (for example, UAB in biology) and want students to take their introductory course to learn procedures specific to that school.
Regardless of how credit is awarded, students benefit. Skipping over introductory courses allows students to earn credit toward a major or minor faster. Getting credit hours may mean entering college as an upperclassman, which gives students advantages with early registration, parking or housing preferences on campus, and priority for getting access to extracurricular activities (like football games).
If I don’t get a qualifying score for college credit on the exam, does that mean I failed?
Some students think that earning a 2 on an AP Exam means they failed the exam.
Earning a 2 on an AP Exam still means a student is likely prepared for college-level work. Students who earn a 2 on the AP Exam often find that the introductory courses in college are easier than if they hadn’t taken the AP class. Their level of stress their freshman year is lower, and the likelihood they will complete college is higher if they make a 2 on the AP Exam.
For more data on how well AP classes and exam scores predict college GPA and completion, see this research report from the College Board.
Which AP courses does Jefferson County offer?
Jefferson County Schools strives to offer a wide range of AP classes for students at all of our schools. The following AP courses are offered in Jefferson County Schools:
- AP Biology*
- AP Calculus AB*
- AP Calculus BC
- AP Chemistry
- AP Computer Science Principles
- AP Economics: Macro
- AP Economics: Micro
- AP English Language (11th)*
- AP English Literature (12th)*
- AP Environmental Science
- AP European History
- AP French Language and Culture
- AP German Language and Culture
- AP Human Geography
- AP Music Theory
- AP Physics 1
- AP Physics 2
- AP Physics C
- AP Psychology
- AP Statistics
- AP Studio Art: Drawing, 2D Design, & 3D Design
- AP Spanish Language and Culture
- AP U.S. Government & Politics: U.S.
- AP U.S. History
*are offered at all high schools
Which AP class is best to take?
The best AP class is the one you will want to do work for and learn about every day. Since you can expect homework and independent reading/writing, you should pick the AP class where doing that kind of work sounds appealing.
2016-2017 AP Program Contacts:
Amy Fineburg – Advanced Programs Specialist, Jefferson County Schools
Center Point HS – Genise Reid
Clay-Chalkville HS – Carrie Beth Buchanan & Dana Jacobson
Corner HS – Lu Ann Roy
Fultondale HS – Laura King
Gardendale HS – Zambia Harris
Hueytown HS – Amy Knight
JCIB – April Miller
McAdory HS – Summer Basgier
Minor HS – Kenya Hall
Mortimer Jordan HS – Catherine Shields
Oak Grove HS – Melinda Freeman & Pam Dennis
Pinson Valley HS – Tanja Tyus
Pleasant Grove HS – Yasmene Shalaby
Shades Valley HS – Gerolyn Woodruff