Belleville Finds Innovative Ways to Improve Advanced Placement Learning Opportunities for Area Students

Marie Perry, Communications Director for the School District of Belleville

A new dual academic program between the UW-River Falls and Belleville High School will enable students to gain more college credit than traditional AP tests offer. Meredith Smith, who teaches Chemistry, AP Chemistry and AP Physics, is featured on the pictured postcard (lower left). Photo courtesy of Marie Perry


A new dual academic credit program between University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UW-RF) and Belleville High School aims to offer college-bound students a unique opportunity this fall to push beyond the typical Advanced Placement (AP) credit options traditionally offered.  Thanks to their Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics Instructor Meredith Smith, students who attend Belleville High School will be offered the chance to gain more college credit than traditional AP tests offer as they return to school this fall.  Beginning this school year, students who sign up for what was traditionally AP Chemistry or AP Physics can earn college credits through UW-River Falls and ultimately transfer those credits to numerous colleges and schools, including UW-Madison, at a reduced fee.  The cost to earn each UW-River Falls transcripted credit is $105 (or $55 if you are on a free and reduced lunch), which is a 66% savings from current tuition fees.

At Back-to-School night, Smith said this to her AP students thinking about enrolling, “If you know you are going into the sciences, I can about 100% guarantee you will need chemistry in college.  If you are not going into the sciences, I can about 100% guarantee you will need a science course in college.  You can take care of some of your science requirements BEFORE college begins in what I believe will be a nicer and easier way to learn chemistry and/or physics and for a MUCH cheaper price.  Both of these options are exciting, because the courses transfer to Madison.  The chemistry one is extra exciting, because a student who takes AP Chemistry is learning the content covered in two college semesters of chemistry, but they usually only earn three science elective credits at Madison.  A student can instead enroll in dual credit and receive credit at UW-River Falls, which transfers as Chem 103 and 104 at UW-Madison.”

Being savvy about the cost of college and getting what you need as a high school student to achieve your dreams was on Smith’s mind as she went back to school this summer to be accredited to teach:  PHYS 121:  Algebra-Based Physics I; CHEM 111/116:  General Chemistry I w/ Lab; and CHEM 112/117:  General Chemistry II w/Lab through the partnership developed with UW-RF.  In the wake of being named a 2022 Level 2 Pacesetter school by the Wisconsin Advanced Placement Advisory Council, Belleville High School is continuing to set the bar high to offer its students all they need to succeed.  Smith also understands that she teaches in a rural school district, so helping to defray costs for her students seeking college upon graduation is something that’s part of the equation and fuels her to do her best.

Traditionally, District Administrator Nate Perry understands the importance of offering AP credit to students wanting to attend college after graduation and is excited about all Belleville has to offer through advanced placement opportunities and now the work Smith is doing with UW-RF.

“The School District of Belleville has a proud tradition of success with Advanced Placement exams.  Our teachers are experienced, hard-working, and willing to go the extra mile to help our students.  Our students are also dedicated and show a great desire to succeed.  Mrs. Smith saw an opportunity - not for herself - but for her students.  So she spent much of her summer taking six credits of chemistry in order for her students to benefit and have the opportunity to earn reduced-price UW System credits in a classroom setting that they are already familiar with.  That’s the Wildcat way!” says Perry.

The partnership between Belleville and UW-RF will hopefully be a trendsetting moment to help students further their educational opportunities in rural settings without breaking the bank!