Congratulations were in order for Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) students and teachers early in the New Year. On February 21, the College Board named GCPS the "Advanced Placement District of the Year Among Large School Districts!"
This prestigious recognition celebrates our schools' success in expanding student access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses, while also improving students' performance on annual AP exams. For several years the district has worked to increase rigor in the classroom. We've encouraged more and more students to take AP courses and attempt AP exams as part of that effort and it's paying off.
In December, we were one of 433 systems in the U.S. and Canada named to the College Board's "7th Annual AP District Honor Roll." From this list, three districts representing small, medium, and large systems were selected as "AP District of the Year" based on an analysis of AP data from three academic years, 2014-2016.
During that period, our schools increased the number of students taking AP classes by 5% annually. Between 2015 and 2016, for example, we added 700 students to the rolls of AP exam-takers, and 2,100 more exams were taken. At the same time, the number of students scoring a 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam rose 1.2%, bringing the district's total for 2016 to 61.5%. A student may earn college course credit with a score of 3 or higher.
Especially gratifying is the growth in participation and performance among students traditionally under-represented in the AP program. Over 43 percent of the AP students in GCPS are American Indian, Black, Hispanic/Latino, or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and 31% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The number of them scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam rose 2% annually, an increase of 914 students since 2014.
Trevor Packer, head of the College Board's AP Program, applauded GCPS in saying, "The teachers and administrators in this district are clearly committed to ensuring that a more diverse population of students attains the benefits of AP that they gain confidence, learn how to craft and defend arguments, earn college credit, and are ready to succeed in college."
I could not agree more, and to our teachers and students I say, "Congratulations and well done!"