Texarkana’s Best and Brightest09/02/2016
Last week my travels took me to Texarkana to honor some of Arkansas’s best and brightest. At Arkansas High School in Texarkana, I presented certificates to 17 Advanced Placement Scholars who were recognized by the College Board for their exceptional work in completing their AP courses. I also awarded financial incentives to 60 of these students who earned qualifying AP test scores last year.
At Arkansas High, students are able to take up to six AP classes during their junior and senior year. If they pass the exams, they can potentially graduate with a full year of college credit. On top of tackling two semesters of college before even enrolling, these students receive $100 for every qualifying AP grade they earn. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
Arkansas law requires every high school to offer at least four AP classes. There are 38 AP courses offered at high schools across the state, and 21 are now offered at Arkansas High School. Within the past year, the Arkansas High School AP program’s participation rate has grown by 17 percent.
And here’s the thing, these tests can be taken by anyone. Since the state pays for students to take the AP exams, which are more than $90 per test, these classes are offered at no cost to students. This means students have the option to earn up to a year’s worth of college credit without spending a dime – giving them the opportunity to save thousands of dollars by earning credit for college in high school.
Arkansas is unique in this effort because we are the only state to cover the full cost of students taking AP tests. For example, 606 AP exams were administered to students at Arkansas High School last year. In total, these tests cost more than $55,000, but not one student was required to foot the bill. Through the Arkansas Department of Education, we are able to cover the complete cost of the tests.
Here’s what past and present Arkansas High School students have to say:
Andrew, a senior student at the U of A, said, “The AP program showed me that I love to learn, and it gave me the tools to be able to learn as much as I want to. They pushed me as a student… teaching me a level of time management skill that has made college easy.”
Armonté, Arkansas High School senior student, said, “It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
Mason, a student at UCA, said, “The teachers at Arkansas High have gone above and beyond their expectations as educators… taking a personal interest in the futures of their students – and the result shows.”
Blaine, the Arkansas High School Freshman Student Class President, said, “I can already see the differences in the coursework. I am more challenged, motivated and interested.”
Sarah, a junior at the U of A, said, “I would encourage every student to consider taking at least one AP course during their high school career so that they can begin to understand the depth and workload of a college class.”
Five students – five stories – and a lasting impact on the bright future of every high school student in Arkansas challenging themselves in AP classes.