Two Aiken County AP academies are expanding cultures of excellence
Rising ninth-grade students looking for a more rigorous academic pathway to graduation, and one with the added benefits of earning college credits prior to graduation have a number of attractive options within Aiken County Public Schools. They include the Early College program at Midland Valley High School, a partnership with Aiken Technical College that affords students the opportunity to earn an Associate in Arts degree before receiving a high school diploma.
“The implementation of the Early College has gone really well and our first cohort of students are in their final semester before graduation from Aiken Technical College on May 7,” said Amy Moak, Early College Counselor at Midland Valley High School.
Moak said the benefits of the Early College program are significant for students.
“These students will benefit from earning transferable college credit while still in high school, giving them an early start to college,” said Moak.
Another exciting new educational partnership has joined the Aiken Scholars Academy and the University of South Carolina Aiken. The first cohort of 50 scholars at the academy began their studies in August on campus at USC Aiken in the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center. These elite scholars will take high school courses during their freshman and sophomore years before matriculating to college coursework at USC Aiken.
According to Aiken Scholars Academy Principal Martha Messick, her students are flourishing in the new environment at USC Aiken.
“The scholars are truly rising to the challenges that are being set for them daily in the classroom,” Messick said. “They are learning how to be better students, work hard and persevere. The results of their hard work thus far have been outstanding. One hundred percent of scholars passed the state required civics exam in October. And most recently they took the Biology End of Course exam where not only 100 percent of the students passed, but there were 30 perfect scores and not a score below a B.”
Meanwhile, in partnership with the National Math & Science Institute, Aiken County’s two Advanced Placement Academies at North Augusta High School and South Aiken High School have experienced a combined growth of 55.4 percent in Advanced Placement math and science scores qualifying for college credit.
North Augusta High School has increased its percentage of students gaining college credit for advanced coursework in the areas of math and science by as high as 159 percent, with 29 students earning qualifying scores in 2015-16, 75 during the 2016-17 school year, and 71 students in the 2017-18 school year earning a 3, 4 or 5.
“What has been exciting about the Advanced Placement program at North Augusta High has been the expansion of more elective AP offerings in addition to the growth in the more traditional AP classes,” said Paige Day, North Augusta High School assistant principal and NMSI coordinator. “We are offering an Advanced Placement opportunity for a truly diverse group of students and have seen an AP culture rise to around 1,000 enrollments a year in these classes.”
South Aiken High School has experienced a 36.2 percent overall increase in qualifying Advanced Placement scores, with a 2015-16 total of 128 qualifying scores of 3, 4 or 5, an increase of 41 qualifying scores for the 2016-17 year and total of 169 qualifying scores, and 176 qualifying scores during the 2017-18 school year.
“Our increase in qualifying scores is a direct result of the commitment from our faculty and staff to provide all students the opportunity to access the rigor of Advanced Placement Courses while also ensuring daily academic support through our Power Hour initiative,” said Samuel Fuller, South Aiken High School Principal.
In August of 2018, Silver Bluff High School, the District’s Academy of Technology, Engineering and Art, became the third high school in Aiken County Public Schools to join the NMSI initiative.
Also during the 2019-20 school year, students attending North Augusta High School feeder middle schools Paul Knox and North Augusta will be part of exciting changes as Paul Knox transitions to a School of Science and North Augusta Middle to a Modern Math Academy.
The 2019-20 application period for the Aiken Scholars Academy has closed. All families seeking additional information for the 2020-21 application period should call ASA Principal Martha Messick at 803-306-1400 or email MMessick@acpsd.net.
Student transfer requests will be accepted for North Augusta High, South Aiken High and Silver Bluff High through March 15. For information on submitting a transfer application to an Aiken County Public Schools, visit acpsd.net. On the navigation bar hover over “I AM …” and then select “A Parent/Guardian”. Scroll down and select “School Choice” on the left hand side of the page. District schools can also provide parents with this information.