Five school districts in Arkansas have been named AP Honor Roll Districts. The distinction is handed down by the College Board, which sets standards and course materials for Advanced Placement classes in high schools. The five districts are among 425 in the US and Canada named to the most recent Honor Roll for increasing access to AP classes and for increasing the percentage of students who score a 3 or higher on the exams.
Mary Stein, Director of the Gifted and Talented and Advanced Placement unit at the Arkansas Department of Education told the state Board of Education Friday that the distinction is about giving students more opportunities.
“These are districts that are definitely opening the doors. They're encouraging students who maybe have been underrepresented in advanced placement courses in the past,” she told the board.
The five recognized are the Atkins, Cedar Ridge, Cedarville, Springdale and White Hall Districts. The College Board noted that three of the districts, Atkins, Cedarville and Springdale have 30 percent or more of their students qualifying for free or reduced lunches. The College Board says the recognition is based on information and data from AP enrollment and exam results from 2013 to 2015.
“At one point, taking Advanced Placement courses was really reserved for the elite. But in the last decade, College Board has changed that philosophy and the idea now is that any student who is willing to accept the challenge should be able to take a course,” Stein said.
According to College Board data, 26,500 Arkansas students participated in 46,061 AP examinations in 2015. Two-hundred and ninety-eight Arkansas schools offered AP classes. The mean score for all Arkansans who took an AP test in 2015 was 1.87. The exam is scored on a 1 through 5 scale, with a 1 score lending “no recommendation” to a student seeking entry-level credit for a given subject area at a college or university. A 5 score designates a student as “extremely well qualified”. Many colleges accept a score of 3 or higher for credit.
Representatives of each of the five recognized districts addressed the board Friday with a short talk about their efforts to expand Advanced Placement offerings.
The Bentonville, El Dorado, Bryant, Crossett, Greenbrier, Monticello, Arkadelphia, Dardenelle, Greenwood, Magnolia, Prairie Grove, Alma, Beebe and Farmington school districts have all previously been named to the Honor Roll, which began in 2011. Crossett and Prairie Grove have twice been named to the list.