Four Kentucky districts honored for expanding AP courses while maintaining high success levels

Four Kentucky school districts are among select company of fewer than 400 to be recognized by the College Board for increasing their Advance Placement course offerings while at the same time increasing the success rates of students in those more rigorous classes.

Named last week to the College Board’s AP Achievement List are the Barren County, Marion County, Oldham County and Simpson County school systems.

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 3 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 1 or 2. Accordingly, there has been a slight decline since 2001 in the percentage of AP students scoring a 3 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.

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