Governor Livingston Social Studies Department Earns an ‘A’ for AP Scores

Students in Mr. Ben Bolger’s AP U.S. History class discuss America’s entry into World War I

The Governor Livingston High School social studies department earned an A for their 2016-17 AP scores when a total of 205 of the 220 students (93%) who took AP exams through the department received passing scores of 3 or higher on a 5 point scale.   If a student earns a 3 or higher on an AP exam they might be eligible for college credit or advanced standing. The average passing score for the department was an outstanding 4.02.

“I was really pleased to see both how many students took AP exams through the social studies department and how well they did” said GLHS Principal Rob Nixon.

The numbers back up this claim as the 220 total tests in the social studies department represent 30% of the total tests taken at GLHS – the highest percentage of any subject area.  

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The GLHS social studies department prepares students to take four different AP exams.  The flagship of the department is the AP United States History course.  This year 90 students took the course and the exam. An impressive 87 of those students passed with a class average of well over a 4.  The other AP courses offered are electives for juniors and seniors: AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics and AP European History.   The teachers responsible for the success are Ben Bolger, April Burke, and Jackie Hudacko for AP U.S. History; Megan Wranitz for the two AP Economics courses, and Sharon Leahy for AP European History.  

Ben Bolger though was quick to share the credit. “It isn’t just the work that we do with them in the AP class,” he said. “One of the things that make our jobs easier as AP teachers is that the entire department from 6th grade on focuses on important skills like primary document analysis, critical reading, historical reasoning, and writing.  These exams are nationally competitive and cover a tremendous amount of information at a very high level.  It is a team effort. ”  The AP U.S. History course covers all aspects of American history from the pre-colonial period to the present day, while AP European History starts in the 1300s and ends with Brexit.

Another reason for the success of the program is the number of teachers who attend AP grading.  According to GLHS Principal Rob Nixon “ we are fortunate enough to have three teachers in the department who applied and were chosen to attend AP grading.  We are very thankful that our Board of Education is so supportive. For example, Sharon Leahy is a question leader for AP European History.  That means she works with the College Board historian who wrote the test to develop the grading standard for a particular essay question.  The insights she gains from this benefits more than just the AP European class; it makes the whole program better.”

Megan Wranitz who is a grader for the AP Economics exam echoed Nixon’s words “Being an AP grader isn’t just about sitting and grading exams for 8 hours a day for days on end.  It is the best professional development opportunity there is. Every day I meet other professionals, both university professors and high school teachers, who are the best in the country and discuss their practice.” She added, “Also, just about every night there is some form of professional development available, my students absolutely benefit from my being a grader.”

GLHS principal Rob Nixon summed it up by saying “I am very proud of the great job done by both the teachers and the students.”  He continued, “Anytime we help students challenge themselves by working at the highest level possible we are helping them be better prepared for college and for life.”

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