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February 21--  Georgia's high schools are moving up nationally in the offering of advanced placement courses and two local high schools are among those offering such courses.

Becky Chambers with the Georgia Department of Education says the AP Courses offer a couple of advantages for qualified high school students.

"Advanced placement courses are college level courses taught by a trained teacher in the high school.  A great advantage is getting exposure to that college level rigor while you've still got a nurturing high school teacher.  Second, students who take AP exams and score well enough have a good chance of receiving college credit for those courses once they are admitted to college," she says.

Vidalia High School is one of 41 smaller high schools in the state offering Advanced Placement Courses.  The AP Challenge Schools have a population of less than 900 students.  

"It's generally more difficult to put some specialized classes like AP on a schedule when you have a smaller student population.  So we know we have principals and superintendents committed to make sure the kids have those opportunities so they can take four AP courses before they leave high school," Chambers notes.

And the state is recognizing Toombs County High School as one of 46 AP Access and Support Schools in Georgia where a diverse student body is showing improvement in AP classes and exams.

"Those schools are doing a really good job based on their school demographics making sure their AP classes have students from all walks of life, all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and that they are also getting outstanding scores," Chambers says.

Toombs County School Superintendent Dr. Kendall Brantley reports Toombs County High School currently has AP courses in five subjects and is getting a $2,800 grant to train another teacher to start an AP course in English/Language Arts.