Park City High School principal Bob O'Connor said the award has been earned over a number of years, going back decades from when the AP program originated. He said it feels great to be named the top performing school twice in a row, but it is not about winning for him. It is about getting more students to take the AP courses and perform well on the end-of-course exams.
"My priority is to have a high number of students challenging themselves with more rigorous courses in preparation for college," he said. "That is the goal I enter the school year with every year."
AP tests are scored on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest score a student can receive. A student must score at least a 3 to pass the test. The high school's pass rate is the highest in the country, but O'Connor said he recognizes that his mission to increase the number of students taking the test jeopardizes that.
The risk of a possible drop in the pass rate by having more students take the AP tests is one O'Connor said he is willing to take. The goal is not to be the highest performing school in the state but to prepare his students for graduation and entering colleges and universities, he said.
There are six different areas in which students can take AP courses and exams: Art, Science, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Language. There is also an honors program that O'Connor said begins in ninth-grade at Treasure Mountain Junior High School.
"The program feeds into the AP course at the high school, and we are trying to get more students started in it to get them taking the courses and exams when they get here," O'Connor said.
He added that the school received notice it had garnered the top spot in AP performance in the state in November, but Gov. Gary Herbert was scheduled to speak with a small group of students at the high school last week.
He was going to award them with the honor of being named the top AP performing school in the state, but O'Connor said he was called away by the White House. They are currently trying to reschedule his visit.