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April 26, 2012

Blair staff continues AP push

by Michelle Chavez, Print News Editor
Blair is holding its first Advanced Placement (AP) boot camp this year with a grant from the Montgomery County Education Foundation. Media Specialist Andrea Lamphier worked with the social studies department to organize the boot camp for two Saturday sessions and two after-school sessions.

The grant was specifically designated for AP World History exam preparation. Letters inviting students to participate in the review sessions were sent home to students who received a C or lower as a quarter or exam grade in an AP or honors class. The boot camp's focus is on AP World History as well as study and note-taking skills.

The grant helped contribute to the removal of a fee that Blair would have had to pay to the Interagency Coordinating Board for using the building outside of school hours, Lamphier said. This grant not only pays for use of the space, but also pays teachers who would have otherwise contributed their time without any compensation.

Staff at Blair have also put more emphasis on the online test-prep database Testing & Education Reference Center. According to Lamphier, the Testing & Education Reference Center contains a collection of practice tests and online textbooks for numerous AP subjects as well as other major tests that students are likely to take to get into graduate school. Blair has purchased a subscription to the website for three years now, but many students perceived the website to be new this year because Lamphier made an extra effort to visit AP classes to teach students about the database.

The database was a worthwhile purchase, according to Lamphier. The $1295 the database costs each year is approximately $1.44 per student taking one or more AP exams this year, and $1.42 per student last year, as opposed to the $15 that each student might pay per exam book.

Assistant Principal Alicia Deeny, who is in charge of APs, is new to Blair this year and has worked with Resource Counselor Marcia Johnson to send notices to students who did not register for AP exams for the classes they are currently taking. This effort was part of Blairís goal to increase the number of students who take AP exams.

This year, registration was slower than in past years and Johnson said she decided to send the notices sooner than usual to emphasize the importance of signing up for exams. While there are fewer students taking exams this year than last, the average number of exams each student is taking has grown.

In addition to the online database, Lamphier is working to provide additional support for students through Access Science, a company that offers online practice quizzes for AP science classes. Lamphier is also planning on working with the social studies department again to try to receive another grant for students next year.



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