I have a really good friend who owns a roofing supply company in Dripping Springs, Texas, just down the road from the Republic of Austin. He is a fortunate guy having gotten in to the roofing supply business in Louisiana three months before Hurricane Katrina, but beyond good fortune, he works hard. Each year he looks at his total sales and if they go up, he knows he is doing a good job. If they go down, he needs to work harder. This is a pretty simple metric that provides easy to interpret feedback on whether he is successful.
How then, are we to know whether we are doing a good academic job at North Cross School? There are many things that we look at, some quantitative and some more anecdotal, but I prefer to lean heavily on our Advanced Placement test results. Four years ago, at our annual gala, we held a paddles up auction to provide professional development funds for our Upper School teachers to attend 5-day AP workshops. This allowed our teachers to better understand the testing process, become aware of curriculum requirements, and meet a cohort of other AP teachers from other schools. We broke down our AP results by individual student and teacher to determine how best we could meet the needs of our students, and we added a number of new AP offerings. We asked more from our teachers and our students and held them accountable for their performance. And finally, we celebrated the achievements of our students at morning assembly.
The result of our attention to AP scores has been a spectacular increase in the percentage of our students receiving AP Scholar designation. Each year, the College Board designates students as AP Scholars, Scholars with Distinction, or Scholars with Honor based upon the number of AP tests taken and their overall average score on those tests. I look at this improvement as an objective measure that we are doing a good job and that our efforts to improve the rigor of our academic program are paying off.
So how spectacular has the growth been? In 2009, the first year Mark Thompson was on campus, we had 4 students achieve an AP Scholars distinction. By 2012, that number had grown to 19 AP Scholars. By 2015, and following our re-emphasis on AP courses, the number of AP Scholars has risen to 33 students. And this number includes Meghan McDonnell who also received an AP International Diploma.
While it may be difficult to measure growth in the educational world, I feel comfortable that an 800% improvement in the number of AP Scholars is compelling evidence that our faculty and students are doing a good job. To go Donald Trump on you, a spectacular job…