Five was a magic number for Alex Kitson this year.
That's the top score possible on the exam that is the culmination of an Advanced Placement course in high school.
Here’s the number of students in 2017 who scored a five on each of the Advanced Placement exams Alex Kitson scored a five on this year, and what percentage that represents of the total number of students who took the exam.
SubjectNumber of students scoring a fiveMean score
Biology: 16,346 (6.4 percent)*2.90
Calculus BC: 56,422 (42.6 percent)*3.78
Calculus BC: AB subscore: 64,197 (48.4 percent)*4.00
French language and culture: 3,845 (17.0 percent)*3.29
Macroeconomics: 24,686 (17.4 percent)*2.89
Microeconomics: 20,614 (23.5 percent)*3.26
Statistics: 29,350 (13.6 percent)*2.72
World history: 25,274 (8.5 percent)*2.76
Source: College Board
Kitson, who graduated from Bentonville High School in May, capped his senior year by scoring a five on all seven of the Advanced Placement exams he took.
It's unclear whether anyone else in the country matched or exceeded Kitson's AP accomplishment. The College Board, which runs the Advanced Placement program, does not have that kind of information, according to Jaslee Carayol, associate director of media relations.
For sure, however, it's a rare feat.
"To score a five on any single AP exam is a significant accomplishment, and to do it on seven exams in a single school year is incredibly remarkable," Greg Puckett, an assistant principal at Bentonville High School, wrote in an email.
The Advanced Placement program includes 38 courses in seven subject categories. Each course is modeled on a comparable introductory college course in the subject, according to the College Board.
Advanced Placement exams are scored on a scale of one to five. Many colleges and universities award students course credit for receiving a three or higher on an Advanced Placement exam.
A policy approved earlier this year requires Arkansas' public colleges and universities to award course credit to students who have scored at least a three on an Advanced Placement exam.
Kitson, 18, received a five on the exams given for biology, calculus BC, French language and culture, macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics and world history.
His success story doesn't end there, though. He also was credited for receiving a five on the calculus AB exam, which comes before calculus BC. That's because the calculus BC exam has an AB portion, for which an AB subscore is recorded. The College Board recommends institutions of higher education treat the AB subscore as equivalent to the calculus AB exam.
So, make that eight fives for Kitson.
The College Board releases statistics on how students score on each Advanced Placement exam each year. In 2017, the last year for which statistics are available, only 8.5 percent of students who took the world history exam, and only 6.4 percent of students who took the biology exam, scored a five. Kitson scored fives on both exams.
"Alex's accomplishment speaks to the incredible teaching faculty we have at Bentonville High School and the support that our students receive at all levels," Puckett wrote. "More importantly, though, it is a testament to the hard work and dedication that Alex has to excellence in the classroom. We are honored to have him as a BHS graduate."
Kitson, the son of Damian and Claire Kitson, is from Sheffield, England. He moved with his family to Bentonville after his father took a position with Walmart Inc. He accumulated a 4.69 grade point average at Bentonville High, according to the School District.
"I think a lot of my success could be credited to the amazing teaching I received at BHS," Kitson said.
Kitson said he arrived with a solid foundation in much of the content he studied at Bentonville High. He had been taking French since the sixth grade, for example.
Kitson will return to England next month to attend the London School of Economics and Political Science, a school he's been wanting to go to for several years. He's eyeing a career in investment banking.
It felt good to receive the top scores on Advanced Placement tests, but it was what those scores would do for his future that mattered the most to him.
"For me it was never about the scores, it was about where the scores could take me," Kitson said.
Kitson also took three Advanced Placement courses during his junior year. He scored fives on the physics 1 and English language and composition exams. He received a four on the Calculus AB exam, according to his score report from the College Board.
Claire Kitson said her son always has been very studious.
"He doesn't just take what the teacher teaches him. He teaches himself as well," she said. "He has worked very, very hard."
She said it will be hard to watch him leave for school next month, especially since he'll be so far away. But she feels better knowing the Kitsons still have friends and family members in England who are there for him if he needs them.
"We weren't ever going to hold him back," she said. "He knows what career he wants to do. This is his dream."
The Kitsons still have two children in the district. One is in the 11th grade, and the other is in the seventh grade.
During the 2016-2017 school year, 27,178 Arkansas public school students took 47,181 Advanced Placement exams. The state paid for all of the exam fees, which totaled $3,472,172, according to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
NAN Our Town on 08/16/2018
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