AP Honor Roll recognizes two Valley districts

McALLEN — The recently released 8th annual AP District Honor Roll shows two Rio Grande Valley school districts — IDEA Public Schools and Santa Maria school district — demonstrating continuous improvement in accessibility and attainment in Advanced Placement courses.

The data rating 447 school districts throughout the United States and Canada was released by the College Board, a nonprofit organization that seeks to connect students with college success.

“The AP District Honor Roll recognizes school districts committed to increasing access to AP for underrepresented students while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher,” according to the College Board’s website. “AP District Honor Roll recipients are committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.”

In Texas, 28 school districts made the honor roll, but only these two Valley districts received the accolade.

The organization rates schools according to increased participation in AP courses, especially in districts with at least 30 percent of students coming from low-income families and being part of underrepresented minorities, such as Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans.

AP courses are meant to introduce students to college rigor while in high school while also giving them the opportunity to earn college credit.

Many districts in the Valley and around the nation, however, are seeking similar opportunities to provide college experience and credits through dual enrollment partnerships with local colleges and universities.

IDEA schools qualified by having at least 30 percent low income and 30 percent underrepresented minority students. Santa Maria qualified with the 30 percent of minority students, according to the organization’s data.

Increased participation was a key factor in the rankings as nationwide data shows 50 percent of underrepresented students who showed AP readiness were actually participating in the courses.

The organization took into consideration school district AP performance for the last three years, 2015 to 2017, to compare AP attainment and participation.

IDEA students, for example, took more than 10,000 AP exams during the 2016-17 school year, their data shows, and at least 24 percent of the 2017 class passed three or more AP exams becoming AP scholars.

“IDEA students and teachers are proving that all students are capable of college-level rigor when you raise the bar for them,” Dolores Gonzalez, chief program officer at IDEA, said in a news release. “Our students are preparing for the rigors of college, standing out in college admissions, and graduating with college credit, in addition to learning best study and testing practices that they will be exposed to in college.”