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So What About Academics?

April 08, 2016
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

Indian Rocks Christian School has truly been blessed with the students that attend here. Previously, I wrote a blog on our athletic department and how many of our athletes go on to the next level. That leaves the next question as, “So what about academics?” I’m glad you asked.

There are a number of different indicators that can be looked at in determining how a student is doing academically. Our ultimate academic goal is that our seniors are ready for college or university studies when they graduate from IRCS. We also want them to be able to get into the college or university of their choice. A significant portion of getting their choice is closely related to personal ability and work ethic. Another critical component is did we prepare them for success at the next level while they were students here.

One of our litmus tests each year is how our students fare in the area of acceptance to the University of Florida. You may be a Gator fan or a Gator hater but of the state schools, it is the most difficult university in which to gain acceptance. According to the website AcceptanceRate.com, the University of Florida has an acceptance rate of 46.5%. This means less than half of the students that apply to attend UF gain admission. This year we had 6 students apply to the University of Florida. Four were accepted into the regular program, one was accepted into the on-line program and one, Jasmine Yu (our 2016 Valedictorian), was accepted to the Honors Program. This is an exceptional accomplishment as only 10% of UF undergrads are admitted into this prestigious program. A big congratulations to Jasmine for achieving such an honor! We believe that she is the first IRCS graduate to be accepted to the Honors College. The IRCS class of 2016 has 56 graduating seniors, this means that 10% of this class were accepted to the University of Florida!

We also look at how many of our students pursue higher education at any college or university. Over the past 15 years, 97% of our students have gone on to attend a four year college or university after graduation. We regularly ask our alumni if they felt they were prepared for that next level and the overwhelming response has been yes.

SAT and the ACT scores are also strong evidences of the strength of an academic program. Here are some recent successes by IRCS students that are noteworthy of sharing with you.

  • Jessica Fitzpatrick (Class of 2016 Salutatorian) obtained a perfect score on the Reading section of the SAT
  • Aaron Ackerman, junior, obtained a perfect score on the Science section of the ACT
  • Emily Cavonis, junior, obtained a perfect score on the English section of the ACT
  • Joshua Guzman, junior, has been selected to the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) for scoring in the top 2.5% on the PSAT

Another indicator of academic success has to do with our students that take Advanced Placement (AP) classes. These classes are taught with a higher degree of difficulty. Students are given a nationally normed test at the end of the year to determine if they have learned the material well enough to be awarded college credit. The tests are administered one time per year on the same date and time all across the United States to ensure academic integrity. AP classes are relatively young at IRCS. Fifteen years ago we did not offer any Honors or AP level courses. We first added Honors level classes to be used as building blocks to get students ready for the rigor of AP. After a few successful years of Honors level classes, we began to implement AP classes. Our two most well established and consistent AP classes over the past 5 years are English Literature and Composition and Human Geography. These classes are taught by Mr. and Mrs. Hayward. The grading of AP tests is based on a 5 point scale. In order to receive college credit, students must achieve a score of 3 or higher. Since 2011 the pass rate for English Literature and Composition is a phenomenal 89%. Our Human Geography pass rate is 71%. Our mean scores (educator talk for average scores) are well above the Florida and Global mean scores. The Florida Department of Education website lists the Pinellas County AP pass rate at 41%. So as you can see, we are doing pretty well in this area. During this span, 62 students have received college credit for passing an AP exam. As a side note, Mr. Hayward has been chosen by AP to be a national grader of the tests for the past five years. He recently was invited back for a sixth time and will be taking part in the scoring this June.

Scholarship money can also be an indicator of a strong academic program. Even students receiving athletic scholarships need to have a solid academic base. Last year’s senior class of 64 graduates was offered over $2 million in scholarship money. The actual money accepted was $1,167,720. If you average this amount with the 64 graduates it would come out to over $18,000 per student.

So as you can see, IRCS is very strong in area of academics and our students receive a quality education enabling them to be successful as they go on from here.