SALEM — After being battered with bad news for the past year, the Salem public schools got some good news yesterday when state Secretary of Education Paul Reville came here to praise Salem High School for its strong performance on the most recent round of Advanced Placement tests.
“Congratulations on your hard work,” Reville said to an audience of Salem High students enrolled in the rigorous AP classes, which are given in different subject areas and are similar to college-level work. “These are outstanding results to celebrate today.”
Salem High has seen steady improvement in its AP test scores, participation and course offerings over the past few years, due in large part to support from a new program, the Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative.
In 2010, the year before the school system entered the program, Salem High students had only 42 “qualifying” scores of 3 or higher (AP scores go from 1-5) in math, science and English. Last year, the school had 126 qualifying scores in those subjects, which often allow students to get college credit or be exempted from one or more classes once they get to college.
In other words, the number of top, or qualifying, scores tripled at Salem High in two years.
The number of students taking all AP courses at Salem High jumped from 107 to 157 over the past three years, according to statistics provided by the school. Those results, which included history and other AP subjects, also showed solid gains on test scores. AP tests are given every May.
Salem High beat state and national averages in the percentage of top scores, according to MMSI officials.
“You should be thrilled and proud of what you have done ...” state Rep. John Keenan said. “Salem is outperforming the state and, quite frankly, outperforming the country.”
MMSI officials announced statewide results yesterday for the 61 high schools participating in what it calls the state’s “largest academic high school math and science program aimed at underserved students.”