Juniors and seniors in the Limestone County School System will have the opportunity to earn a free course at Calhoun Community College through a credit assurance program starting this fall.

Students enrolled in AP Language and Composition or AP Literature and Composition during the 2020-2021 school year and who pay the tuition for the Calhoun equivalent of the course can take their AP exam at the end of the class for a chance at not just college credit but a tuition waiver for a second class at Calhoun the following year.

"In the past, they haven't received any college credit, even if they complete the rigorous AP course," said Jan Tribble, director of secondary curriculum for Limestone County Schools.

She said the school system wants students to challenge themselves to take AP courses and dual enrollment courses. On the AP exams, students are scored on a 5-point scale, and those with a 1 or 2 can still earn college credit for their AP course.

However, those who score a 3, 4 or 5 get the added bonus of a tuition waiver which can be used by juniors for a fall or spring course at Calhoun during their senior year and by seniors for a course within one year following their high school graduation. Students who pay for and complete a course sequence, and score a 4 or 5 on the AP exam, will receive two tuition waivers.

The Limestone County Board of Education approved LCS' participation in the program during its May 12 meeting. Chairman Bret McGill abstained from the vote because he serves as dean of the health sciences department at Calhoun, but he told fellow board members it's a "no-lose situation" for students and their parents.

"It's an incentive to make them take the test, but if they don't score well on the test, they can still get college credit by making a C or higher in the class," McGill said, adding the program has already been successful for Huntsville City Schools.

Tribble told The News Courier however much students "can accomplish through their junior and senior years, it's that much less they have to do in college and that much more prepared they'll be for college when they attend."

She said LCS is only including two AP courses in the program now, but if it's successful, there's been talk of including history or science courses in the future.

"AP courses have really grown," Tribble said. "We started with just a few options, and now we probably have 11 or 12 at some high schools."

Technology has also grown, so students who may not have the option at their school can still participate virtually in a course at another school.

Visit the online version of this story at enewscourier.com to view a copy of the credit assurance program agreement between LCS and Calhoun.

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