Kerryan Tracy’s Advanced Placement English class is fun. Students in this class at B.M.C. Durfee High School were presenting criminal profiles of the namesake in the Mary Shelley classic “Frankenstein.”
Tracy sat on a desk in the rear of the classroom, as students presented their profiles, and lead most of the discussion. There are 11 seniors and seven juniors in the class.
Once a program only for the top academic performers in high school, AP classes are being offered to a wider group of Durfee students.
The reason behind expanding AP enrollment is simple — to expose more high school students to college-level work, according to leaders at the Mass Math and Science Initiative, which has sponsored increased AP offerings at Durfee and other schools statewide.
If more high school students are exposed to college-level work, they are more likely to succeed and persist in their post-high school educational pursuits, said John Smolenski, lead field director for MMSI.
At Durfee, most students are taking AP English, math and science courses — and more students are passing.
The MMSI program is in its fifth year at Durfee, and it has ensured that AP classes are no longer viewed as exclusive at Durfee. In 2009, before the program started, 165 students were enrolled in Durfee’s AP classes. This year, 378 students are enrolled.
A cumulative test at the end of the academic year determines whether students receive college credit or not. The scores are graded from 1 to 5, with a score of 3 or greater needed to qualify for college credit.
In 2009, 30 of Durfee’s AP test takers earned scores of 3 or greater. Last spring, 162 AP test takers — close to half of the 372 students to take them — earned qualifying scores.
Durfee is also offering AP courses in studio art, Spanish, American history, European history and government classes.
Students said they appreciate that AP classes “feel” like college classes. While they are more challenging, they are a little less structured, and teachers come across as “so much more personable,” said senior Nicholas Raposo.