The number of Riverside-Brookfield High School students who took Advanced Placement (AP) exams dropped for the third year in a row in 2011. The number of students taking the college-level exams fell about 9 percent, from 509 in 2010 to 465 in 2011.

And the total number of AP exams taken at the school also dropped for the third straight year, with 950 AP exams taken in 2011 compared to 1,141 in 2010. The drop in RBHS students taking AP exams comes as the number of students taking the tests increases statewide.

But RBHS was a pioneer in giving a wide range of students access to AP classes and remains ahead of most schools in the percentage of students who take an AP class.

“We want everybody to have this experience before they go away to college,” said Principal Pamela Bylsma.

While the administration at RBHS remains committed to encouraging a wide range of students to take at least one AP class, the emphasis on AP that was hallmark of the leadership of former Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann seems to have lessened.

Bylsma told the school board last month that school administrators are not sure why the number of students taking AP dropped last year. She also told the school board that said she expects the numbers to drop further this year as the introduction of honors classes for upperclassmen reduces the emphasis on AP.

The AP pass rate, scores of 3 or greater (AP Exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest score), among RBHS students dipped slightly last year to 68 percent down from 70.1 percent in 2010, but remains higher than during the peak of the Baldermann years in 2007 and 2008 when 55 percent and 63.1 percent of students taking the exams, respectively, received scores of 3 or higher.

Even with a relatively large number of students taking AP exams, the pass rate at RBHS remained higher than the state than the state average of 66.2 percent in 2011.

-Bob Skolnik