JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Department of Education reports Advanced Placement test scores have gone up across the state.
The number of students scoring a 3 or higher out of a possible 5 increased by 6.4%, while the national average increased by 6.6%. A number of Region 8 school's contributed to this achievement.
With the help of Advanced Placement courses, students are able to experience a college like learning environment and possibly receive college credit.
One of Casey Harris's students started college with 60 hours of college credit. Harris teaches AP courses at Jonesboro High School and said while the high scores are great, the effort students put in is just as important.
"They may not score well on the AP exam, but the colleges will see this kid was in this. They made an A or a B or whatever, so they tried."
AP courses take a different teaching style, and Harris explained he had to switch up the way he taught his students and go beyond just reading a book. "There is a lot more engagement you have to get into with the students. You have to make it more relevant to, you know, what they are doing."
The increased scores reflect that change in teaching styles, and Harris said it is also merited to education evolving. "One, we have to get to know our students. I think pulling back and trying to figure out what our students are interested in and kind of personalizing their education."
Harris designs his tests to resemble the exams his students will see in May, but he believes it's the skills they take beyond the test that really make the AP program worth it.
"They do learn work ethic. They have to work hard at it. They learn networking."
To see Arkansas education continue to grow and achieve more success, Harris said it has to start with teachers and their passion for learning.
"It's that lifelong learning process that we are finding new things and we are sharing with our kids." Harris added, "Letting our teachers not become dinosaurs, and we just keep learning and keep pushing and keep trying."