District Noted For Gains in Access and Performance Levels, Particularly for Students of Color
DPS achieved placement on the esteemed 7th Annual Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll, earning another accolade for progress toward demonstrating student success in college and career readiness. This marks the third listing for DPS on the honor roll, and follows recognition DPS received last year as 2016 College Board AP District of the Year.
Developed by the College Board, the AP program offers high school students college-level courses and exams, which results in students having the opportunity to get a head start on earning college credit. DPS has offered AP courses for more than 30 years, and in that time has experienced exponential growth in both student participation and course offerings. In 2005, 853 DPS students took advantage of AP courses; today, that number has grown to 3,162 students participating in the program.
To earn the prestigious placement on the AP Honor Roll, DPS exemplified a districtwide increase in overall participation in AP courses and an increase of African-American, Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in AP courses. While growing the program, the district simultaneously improved scores significantly — the percentage of students earning college-credit eligible scores of three or higher on AP exams increased from 37.3% of students enrolled in courses in 2005 to 44.4% of students in 2016— a rare feat as participation growth is traditionally linked with a decline in scores.
Offering AP courses is one of many strategies DPS is taking to ensure students are college- and career-ready. Students who take AP courses and achieve a qualifying score open the door to several benefits on their postsecondary success journey. By earning college credit while in high school, students save significantly on college tuition by avoiding required introductory courses and advancing to upper-level courses, which places them on a faster track toward degree completion. In addition, students who have AP courses on their transcripts stand out to college admissions offices, as it is indicates an ability to handle the rigors of a postsecondary curriculum with experience learning time management habits, study skills and how to handle challenging issues.
“We are extremely proud of this honor and our amazing students and staff – this is ultimately about access, opportunity and a persistent belief in the potential of students!” said Randy Johnson, Executive Director of Post-Secondary Readiness and an Instructional Superintendent at DPS.
Of the DPS students who earned a qualifying score, 584 students were recognized as “AP Scholars”, an award given to students who earn a three or higher on three or more exams. Studies show students — across all income levels and races — who take part in AP courses go on to become more successful in college than those who do not participate. The majority of DPS high schools offer a variety of AP courses, as the district continues to provide high-quality, college-level coursework and broaden postsecondary options for all students.
In DPS, AP courses are offered across several subject areas to appeal to students’ interests, including Human Geography, History, Biology, Environmental Science, Studio Art, World Languages, U.S. Government, Government Politics and most recently, Computer Science Principles which will be offered in Fall 2016.
Every student who is enrolled in an AP class at DPS is expected to take an AP exam or submit a portfolio for review. District-level financial support is available for all students who are unable to meet exam and portfolio costs.
One of our five goals in the district’s strategic plan — the Denver Plan 2020 — is to ensure our students graduate college- and career-ready. DPS provides a variety of supports and services for students and their families, not just on their path to graduation, but to ensure their success in a globally-connected, knowledge-based economy. Most jobs in Colorado— now and in the future— require training or education beyond high school, and course offerings such as AP help prepare students for the increased rigor they will experience in college.
“If I had the choice, I would do it all over again. It’s been incredible to be an AP student. It’s helped me grow in ways I never thought I could grow. It’s something I’ll always be grateful for,” said Marlen Saucedo-Bustos, a 2016 graduate of Bruce Randolph School who earned a qualifying score on AP Statistics and recently represented DPS as a featured speaker at the 2016 Annual AP Conference in California.
This distinction is held by only three other districts in the state of Colorado, and 433 school districts in the United States and Canada. For a full list of AP course offerings and to learn more about what it means to be college and career ready, visit collegeandcareer.dpsk12.org.