Friday Harbor High School rated among state’s top 12 in AP exams

Students study in the career counseling college center at Friday Harbor High School

Friday Harbor High School is ranked among the state’s top 12 schools based on student performance on Advanced Placement exams.

The school earned that distinction, the first in its history, by Collegeboard, a nonprofit college success support organization.

“I was surprised to a degree. I knew that we were having success with AP students scoring high, but I didn’t know the study was being done, I didn’t even know it existed,” said Principal Fred Woods. “We didn’t fill out paperwork or apply for the award, so in that sense, I was surprised.”

The 7th Annual AP Report by CollegeBoard tracked the number of seniors who have earned a score of three, four or five on at least one of their Washington state Advanced Placement exams. In addition to high scores, over 30 percent of the Friday Harbor’s 2011 graduating class, who took the AP exams earned elective college credit.

Fifty-nine percent of the graduating class scored a three or higher on at least one exam during high school, and 53 percent of all Friday Harbor students who took AP exams last year earned a three or higher.

“It confirms everything we have believed,” Woods said. “We’re fortunate to have a school that prepares kids for success.”

This is the highest ranking category selected and includes schools such, Bainbridge, Bellevue, Bickelton, Curlew, Lake Washington, Manson, Mercer Island, Oaksdale, Pullman, Shoreline and Snoqualmie Valley High Schools.

Woods said that a stigma is often attached to smaller schools, like Friday Harbor, that students aren’t challenged or that teachers are of a lower caliber.

“This award proved that stereotype wrong,” Woods said. “We’re up there with those schools considered the best.”

San Juan Island public schools also scored above average in reading, writing and math on state standardized tests, including the Measure of Student Progress and the High School Proficiency Exam, as well as the state’s math End of Course exams.

Woods said 100 percent of the eight graders and 90 percent of the ninth graders passed the Algebra EOC test and 80 percent of freshmen and sophomores passed geometry EOC.

Due to its high score, the state of Washington this spring awarded Friday Harbor High School the Achievement Award for Overall Excellence, with  special recognition in language arts.

“What is impressive about the island is that everyone is involved from the kindergarten teacher to the AP chemistry teacher, to the parent actively involved,” Woods said. “This award doesn’t mean that we don’t have places to work on, it shows that we are doing things right, not a statement of perfection, but it means we are doing extremely well.”