Calculus, world history, senior English, spinach, liver - it's all the same when you talk to just about any teenager, but apparently not teens enrolled in Provo schools.
According to recently released test results, students in the Provo School District are scoring above the national average for the American College Test.In the past year, more students also have taken and passed Advanced Placement courses to gain college credit, said Vern Brimley, Provo School District administrative assistant to the superintendent.
And not to leave out the younger students, results from the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills show that test scores of Provo students from second to 10th grade are well above the 50th percentile, which is the national average.
"Over a five-year period the ACT composite scores are the highest ever," said Rod Crockett, coordinator for district counseling. For 1987-1988, the composite is 20.7.
In the 1983-1984 school year the composite score was 19.8. In 1984-1985 it was 19.7, in 1985-1986 it was 20.5 and in 1986-1987 it went down to 19.7.
"The ACT people say a .7 indicates a significant growth factor," he said. "We are very pleased that we got a 20.7. We feel we've got a tremendous education system in the Provo School District."
The jump in this year's score is a result of a combination of many things, Crockett said. When the ACT composite score dropped last year flags were raised.
"In the past few years the teaching staff has made a real conscious effort. We have placed major emphasis in all areas (English, math, social studies and natural science) and have spent a great deal of time and effort."
Whether the trend continues depends on class sizes, he said. "If the (tax) initiatives pass, how long will we continue to keep the class size down? It's a very frightening proposition when you think about it. Students will have to pickup things on their own because the teacher won't have time to give individual help."
Last year more than 50 percent of the graduating seniors in the district took the ACT test - 234 girls and 229 boys.
"It's important that the ACT scores in Provo were two points higher than the state, nation and region," said Superintendent James Bergera. "When you consider the composite score, that is a significant increase."
As far as Advanced Placement goes, 306 students took the AP exams for the 1987-88 school year and 84 percent received passing grades. "That is among the highest in the state," Bergera said.
Kay Laursen, principal at Timpview High School, said that in the past four years more students from Timpview have passed the AP exams than from any other school in the state.
Eighty-eight percent of the students passed the exams last year at Timpview and Provo High School was close behind with 79 percent.
One hundred percent of the students at both high schools who took math and calculus AP exams passed.
"This shows that we have excellent instruction going on," Brimley said. "We start with the ninth grade and suggest classes students should consider taking if they want to take AP exams."
By passing the AP exams, students can receive one to eight college semester hours.
"That is quite an accomplishment considering the costs of college credits," Brimley said. "It's a significant amount of savings to the student."
A comparison of Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills scores from 1982 to 1988 shows that second- and fourth-grade scores have increased 13 percent, sixth-grade scores have improved 14 percent, eighth-grade scores have gone up 8 percent and tenth-grade scores have improved 7 percent.
All CTBS scores are in the 70th and 80th percentile.
Bergera said the CTBS results are an indication that "emphasis on academics begins right at kindergarten."
Brimley said, "We are really happy about this. The board of education has expressed gratitude to the teachers and staff after seeing the results."