Another year down, another year underway.
The summer break flew by as the 2022-23 school year is already a few weeks old. Getting back in the swing of things has been a central focal point for the new school year.
Over at Tecumseh High School, some are looking to keep the momentum rolling from the last school year. This past May, Advanced Placement Calculus students dominated the AB exam, setting the bar high for this year’s students.
37 students took the AP Calculus AB test, and all passed. The students handled themselves well, scoring a combined 4.51 on a five-point scale. 25 students hit the max, scoring a five, while six students scored a four and six students scored a three.
“At the end of the day, I teach students the content, but they are the ones taking the AP Calculus exam,” said teacher Will Ramsell. “They are the ones that critically think through the exam. I’m very proud of the work ethic and the drive many of our students have.”
That drive from students has propelled THS past state and national averages regarding the exam.
The average for the State of Michigan was 3.02 out of five. Just over 59% of students in Michigan passed with a score of three or higher. The numbers dip for the national average. The national average for the AP Calculus exam was 2.91 out of five, and under 56% of students nationwide passed with a score of three or higher.
Ramsell, who teaches several math courses at THS, is straightforward when describing his AP Calculus course; it’s rigorous. However, at the same time, it is rewarding for him to teach and for the students to learn.
(pictured: teacher Will Ramsell)
“I believe in repetition, and that practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent,” Ramsell said. “The hardest part of AP is that students must retain a lot of information and be able to think on their feet.”
Students are assessed weekly, and their homework load is high. Ramsell has spent much of his time crafting an AP class that is challenging for his students but also very educational. For his instruction, he likes to use video-based notes that he created. These notes cover all the essential knowledge standards from College Board.
This much time and attention to this course are crucial for Ramsell and his students. A lot is riding on the line when it comes to higher education. A score of three or higher earns students college credits that many colleges and universities recognize.
If studying all school year for an AP Calculus AB exam isn’t challenging enough, some students compete at a high level in our math programs.
It was quite the achievement last year for our students who took part in Equations, Siena Heights Lenawee County High School Mathematics Olympiad Competition, and the National Trigonometry Test.
We had teams take first and second place in the Olympiad Competition and won three divisions in the county-wide Equations tournament.
Tecumseh has led the National Trig Star test for the past two years. Schools from all across Michigan compete in the test. Last year, current THS senior Javid Garcia was the state champion, and this year senior Lucas Stiver won the competition.
AP Calculus is just one of 14 AP classes offered at Tecumseh High School. The AP curriculum exposes students to a high level of rigor that challenges student thinking and prepares them for various experiences and opportunities after high school.
Based on the 2021-2022 school year data, Tecumseh High School's passage rate was nearly 80% for AP courses. In comparison, the 2020-2021 school year saw about a 67% passage rate. Ten students took AP English, and all students passed. AP Environmental Science also had high scores as students nearly averaged a 4.0.
With the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting how education has been taught, Ramsell says the AP program has been quite impressive and effective.
“I believe our overall AP program is solid and will continue to improve in the years to come,” said Ramsell. “As long as we keep doing what is best for students, increasing rigor, and holding students and ourselves accountable, our students will excel.”
Ramsell knows just how challenging his AP Calculus course is, but he has a message for his students; don’t be afraid of failure.
“Some of the best lessons in life are learned through failure,” Ramsell said. “Sometimes, in the moment, students have a hard time grasping the outcome they get. Even adults do as well. With time, they become reflective in practice and learn from their errors and grow from it.”