Presenting academic challenges to FHS studentsThe number of Farmington High School students taking accelerated placement classes and college courses is increasing, and assistant principal Kerry Timmerman likes what he sees.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
The number of Farmington High School students taking accelerated placement classes and college courses is increasing, and assistant principal Kerry Timmerman likes what he sees.
Not only are the number of AP and college offerings increasing, but the number of high school students enrolled in one or the other – or both – has more than doubled since the school building opened in 2009.
When FHS opened, there were 172 students in grades 10-12 who were enrolled in AP classes, Timmerman said. Last year, there were 375 students taking AP classes or doing college-level work in high school by the end of the school year.
FHS is partnering with the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State University to offer a handful of introduction-level classes to high school students. The classes are taught in the high school building, by Farmington teachers. In order to qualify, the teachers have to have masters degrees, but they are coached by college professors, who also visit the classrooms on occasion.
“The whole idea is that it’s the exact same course taught at Farmington High School as are taught on that particular college campus. It’s a great opportunity for a number of students. They get an actual college transcript saying that they took this class,” Timmerman said.
High school students can take calculus, English/writing, or English/literature courses through the University of Minnesota’s program. SCSU offers global geography and intro to physics. FHS budgets for the students to participate –District 192 pays a stipend for each student who registers to the respective schools – so students do not have to take classes off-campus and they can stay involved in extra-curricular activities at the high school if they so desire. It’s an expenditure Timmerman thinks is well spent.
“We want to provide upper level, college level experiences for students so they don’t go of campus,” he said. “It’s a good deal for our kids and their families. In some cases, they’re showing up at schools with credits already in hand.”
The college credits earned from SCSU or the U of M will transfer easily to some schools, but private schools tend to be more refined in their requirements, Timmerman said. That’s why FHS has also increased the number of AP classes offered to students.
The Advanced Placement curriculum has set, standardized, international requirements, he said. Students who take an AP test in biology in Farmington are taking the same AP test in biology at schools around the nation. In that respect, students who are interested in attending a private college for post-secondary education are more likely to take the AP classes because those standards are recognizable to colleges around the United States.
“They’re good for different reasons,” Timmerman said of the AP classes, “which is why we’re trying to have a balance for a little bit of both.”
FHS offers eight AP classes this year. There are more AP classes available, but the administration will not run a class if not enough students are interested in taking it.