SJA Graduates Achieve Perfect Scores on the AP Research Exam

Emma Forster and Annie Danielson
April 8, 2019

Emma Forster ’18 (left) and Annie Danielson ’18 (right) received perfect scores on the 2018 Advanced Placement Research exam.

Two members of St. Johnsbury Academy’s Class of 2018, Annie Danielson and Emma Forster, received perfect scores on the AP Research exam they took in May 2018. Annie and Emma were among 111 students in the world to receive a perfect score on this exam. Only 40 schools in the world had two students with perfect scores.


Advanced Placement exams are scored on a five-point scale, where a five is equivalent to a grade of A in a corresponding college course. Annie and Emma not only received the top score of five on the exam, but they also earned every point possible on the AP Research exam, receiving the maximum score on each section. Since the AP Capstone program began three years ago, SJA has had five perfect scores among its students.


A letter to Headmaster Tom Lovett from Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, AP and Instruction at the College Board, reads, “These extraordinary academic accomplishments are likely a direct reflection of the top-quality education being offered at St. Johnsbury Academy. We applaud both your school’s hard-working students and the devoted AP teachers who have so successfully engaged and challenged them with college-level material.”


Steve Jolliffe, Chair of the SJA English department, taught both Annie and Emma in his AP Research class. In reference to Emma’s work, he said, “Emma’s original research examined the relationship between a parent’s perception of his/her middle-school child’s self-esteem and the child’s measured self-esteem. She found that parents often overestimate their children’s self-esteem, which is important given that middle school students are undergoing a time of tremendous growth and change. Her findings were shared with the many local schools that participated in the study.” In reference to Annie’s work, he said, “Annie’s research evolved from an earlier experience she had banding birds for a Vermont study on the fat stores of Warblers. She used data collected from multiple banding stations in Vermont and compared them to Vermont weather data to determine whether climate change was impacting migration patterns. Her research was a true meta-analysis and has been shared with the professional community. Annie has even been invited to present her findings at conferences.” He continued, “I’m so pleased our students continue to excel in this exciting new course. All of our students have performed well and many of their works are being used as exemplars by the College Board at conferences and in training teacher around the world.”


Headmaster Tom Lovett said, “Excellence in any endeavor is rare, and perfection is even rarer.  How proud, then, should Emma and Annie be of this perfect performance on a very rigorous academic challenge! Their families who supported them and their teachers who developed their skills should also feel great pride in this accomplishment. To be one of the top research schools in the world takes the combined efforts of many teachers and mentors over the years. Congratulations to all!”


AP Capstone Program


The AP Research exam is part of St. Johnsbury Academy’s AP Capstone program. SJA is currently in its fourth year of the program, which was developed with input from the faculty and admissions staff from more than 50 colleges and universities, including Stanford, Columbia, Duke and UC Berkeley. Philip Ballinger, Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Washington, said, “At the University of Washington, we are very interested in enrolling students who have distinguished themselves through the AP Capstone program. Students who successfully participate in the AP Capstone program learn how to read and assess sources critically, distill and synthesize conclusions based on evidence, and effectively communicate their conclusions to others. This developed skill of critical reading, thinking, and communicating is precisely what leads to high achievement and outcomes in college.”


The AP Capstone program involves a two-course sequence: AP Seminar followed by AP Research. Students who complete the AP Seminar and Research courses and earn scores of 3 or higher on the subsequent exams, as well as on at least 4 other AP exams, earn the AP Capstone Diploma. Students successfully completing only the AP Seminar and AP Research courses and exams earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. This year, 17 students earned the AP Capstone Diploma; seven earned the AP Capstone Seminar and Research Certificate. Out of 27 eligible students, 25 passed the AP Research exam and received recognition, a 93% pass rate. The national average rate of passing the AP Research exam is 74%. St. Johnsbury Academy is currently the only school in northern New England to offer this program.

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