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Marion County School District is one of fewer than 400 school districts in the nation being honored by the College Board with a place on its AP® Achievement List for opening AP classroom doors to a significantly broader pool of students, while maintaining or improving the percentage of students earning scores of three or higher. From 2008 to 2010, Marion County has increased the number of students participating in AP from 84 to 176 while improving the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of three or higher, the score typically needed to earn college credit, from 39 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2010.
According to Interim Superintendent Steve Burkich, Marion County is one of only five Kentucky districts to receive this national recognition. This recognition is encouraging for Marion County, who is fortunate to participate in the Advance Kentucky initiative, training teachers and increasing student college and career readiness.
The AP Achievement list is made up of all school districts that are simultaneously expanding opportunity and improving performance, so even low-performing districts are included if they have been able to maintain or improve scores while expanding access. The list includes 388 school districts representing 43 states, with California’s 37 districts on the list representing the largest number of districts from a single state, followed by Michigan with 29 districts and Pennsylvania with 28 districts.
“Participation in college-level AP courses can level the playing field for underserved students, give them the confidence needed to succeed in college, and raise standards and performance in key subjects like science and math,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “The AP Achievement List districts are defying expectations by expanding access while enabling their students to maintain or improve their AP Exam scores.”
Many U.S. school districts have focused on expanding access to AP courses as part of a strategy for fostering college readiness. While these efforts have resulted in more students earning scores of three or better - the score typically cited as a “qualifying” or “successful” score because the majority of U.S. colleges and universities provide college credit or advanced placement for this score - these efforts have also resulted in more students now earning scores of one or two. Accordingly, there has been a slight decline since 2001 in the percentage of AP students scoring a three or better, a decline that is to be expected in any program attracting a broader cross-section of students.
That said, helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. Many are experimenting with a variety of initiatives and strategies to determine how to expand access and improve student performance simultaneously.
“These districts are living proof that when access to AP is provided for the range and breadth of prepared and motivated students, districts can achieve even higher learning outcomes for their students - and the opportunity for so many more to earn college credit and placement - than when AP opportunities were restricted to a smaller segment of the high school population,” said Trevor Packer, vice president of the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program®.
Inclusion on the list is based on the following criteria:
1. Examination of three years of AP data, from 2008 to 2010;
2. Increase in participation in/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 7 percent in medium districts and at least 11 percent in small districts;
3. A steady or increasing percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students; and
4. Performance levels maintained or improved when comparing the percentage of exams in 2010 scoring a three or higher to those in 2008, or the school has already attained a performance level in which more than 70 percent of the AP students are scoring a three or higher.
Additionally, school districts with an AP student population composed of 50 percent or more traditionally underrepresented minority students (African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native) and/or low-income students have been noted on the Achievement List to highlight significant improvements in equity and quality among the nation’s historically underserved student populations.
The complete AP Achievement List can be found at www.collegeboard.org.