AP programme can take Cayman kids to Harvard

| 26/01/2011

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Further Education Centre that has been created to accommodate students in the first mandatory Year 12 is not only providing vocational opportunities but academic ones as well for the highest achieving teens from Year 11. The Advanced Placement programme allows students to take exams that will facilitate their entry into American, British, European and Caribbean universities and colleges. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly earlier this month the education minister said that the AP qualifications are administered by the college board which offers SATs in the US and are recognized by institutions such as Harvard in the US and Oxford in the UK.

Students are required to take maths and English and can pick two other subjects from the arts, sciences and languages, and as the Advanced Placement is a two year programme students will be able to take different subjects in the second year. The AP programme is scheduled to be introduced to the Brac high school in September 2013.

The students taking the AP programme are also part of an Education Department pilot project, testing the feasibility of one-to-one computing in the education system. According to education officials, Cayman students already have a favourable student-to-PC ratio when compared to other jurisdictions, but the goal is to give older students more time with the technology.

In much the same way as text books are loaned to students during the course of a year, each of the AP students will be assigned a netbook, which they can take home throughout their twelfth year. The PCs must, however, be returned at the end of their studies.

Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said it would close the digital divide between students who have PCs at home and those who don’t, giving them all equal access to the digital world and its resources.

“We want our students to become independent learners, thinkers and researchers, as these skills prepare them for success beyond the secondary level,” she said. “Advanced Placement students are expected to take on a great deal of independent study and research, and netbooks are a cost-effective tool to achieve this.”

If successful, the pilot laptop project could reduce costs associated with sourcing, purchasing, shipping and storing expensive text books. Instead, AP students will be able to find and read books and other study materials online at no cost through sources such as the Project Gutenberg digital library. Precautions have, however, been taken to ensure that students use the technology appropriately.

Wahler said the school networks are equipped with relevant safety features to prevent access to improper websites. Participating students have also signed agreements which set out standards and expectations for computer use. Additionally, the new machines will be periodically checked and students who’ve misused their PCs off campus will immediately lose the privilege.

In total, the 20 machines – secured at a reduced cost with the help of Priced Right Managing Director Woody Foster – cost the Education Department just under $8,000.

A free on-campus hotspot, donated by LIME, also gives students web access between classes and outside of school hours.

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  1. Anonymous says:

     Unfortunately, four APs are not going to get a student very far. Competitive students in the US do far more than that and anyone needs more than APs to get Harvard to consider an application seriously.  APs are one year courses not two, usually the culmination of four years of High School studies for the more able students who have already taken honors level courses in the same topics.

    This is a good start but as with any pilot program it is going to have its teething problems, this community should not expect Ivy League opportunities for our students straight away. As another poster rightly stated – the quality of the teachers will make a difference with the success of this program but the students will also have to work exceptionally hard. I may be wrong but I do not think CXCs prepare students well to take American APs.

  2. Anonymous says:

    compulsory year 12? What are they talking about. I did year 12 when I was in High School, when was it dropped and what age have kids been graduating at?
    I’m sooo confused!! We were barely 17 back then and that wasn’t all that long ago.
    APs are useful, I did them years ago after I left high school in Cayman. Alot like A levels but american. A step in the right direction at least. Just not sure about the compulsory year 12 thing though.

  3. NorthSideSue says:

    This is a welcome addition to the Cayman education system.  Both of my sons (now 40 and 37) took advantage of AP classes at our home in the States.  They entered college with enough credits that they were almost sophomores.  The key to the success of this program will be the teachers chosen to teach the AP classes.  They need to be the best of the best, and not necessarily just the most senior faculty.  Good luck!

  4. Anonymous says:

     It is very encouraging to learn of the AP Programme which has finally reached the Cayman Islands.  My daughter accomplished passes in this prorgamme over 10 years ago.  I do hope that our students will make every effort to take advantage of this very positive oppurtunity , as a step into the future.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well said and aimed objective of ” independent learners, thinkers and researchers” .

    Sadly however, there are too many within the higher echelons of the public service who have not developed beyond the high school level and in one case did not even finish. Yet as a senior officer, he has been asked to stay on after the mandatory retirement age of 60yrs old, when other more capable people have been let go.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yup, the Pope is Jewish too.