The 8th Annual AP District Honor Roll list was released by the AP College Board late last week and the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District landed a spot on the distinguished list, which recognizes school districts across the country for student achievement and increase to access to advanced placement classes.
The esteemed list comprises of 447 other school districts throughout the United States and Canada that have, “simultaneously achieved increase to access to advanced placement courses for a broader number of students and also maintained or improved the rate at which their AP students earned scores of three or higher on an AP exam,” according to the honor roll list.
Schools have to succeed in both areas in order to be considered for the list, which is compiled through examining several years of AP data.
AP Spokesperson Jose A. Rios said of the data compilation process, “Improvement in AP results typically takes sustained effort, so the District Honor Roll is based on examination of three years of data.”
Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School district is one in 34 California school districts to have been celebrated for their AP achievements.
When asked why this is such a big achievement for a school district, Rios said obtaining a spot on the list shows that a district is committed to academically motivating students.
“Reaching these goals shows that a district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for AP,” Rios said. Also, “Honor Roll Districts defy the expectation that expanding access automatically results in a decline in the percentage of exams earning scores of three or better.”
The AP College Board started recognizing districts for the list in 2010.
Superintendent for the school district, Robert Haley and the school board of trustees, announced in a press release regarding the honor that they were “pleased to announce… that the district has been named on the list.”
They also credited the many teachers, as well as the principals at both Technology and Rancho Cotate High School, for helping students achieve this goal of receiving a score of three or higher on an AP exam.
AP exams are typically scored on a scale of 1-5, three being the average passing score and five being the highest possible score.
“The principals at both high schools credit this practice and the hardworking advanced placement teachers at both schools for the attainment of this exciting achievement,” read Haley’s statement.
Emilie King, an AP U.S. History teacher at Technology High School, was thrilled when she learned the district received a place on the list and said she and her colleagues put in the extra effort all year round to help students succeed.
“I was very proud, it was super exciting for me and I think both my colleagues and the district both work really hard in helping students succeed. We take a lot of pride in teaching AP so we want our students to do well. We often hold study sessions outside of class time and we try to provide opportunities for them to take sample AP tests throughout the year,” King said.
Last year when King first started teaching AP, she said her kids did really well and that all of them received a score of three or higher on their AP U.S. History exam. That year, around 81 percent of her class scored a three or higher and around 45 percent of those scores were a four or a five, a feat made difficult since the U.S. History exam is one of the more difficult AP exams and has four parts; a multiple choice, short answer, long essay question and a document based essay question section.
“I was so proud of them, I was pushing and pushing them all year and we had a really great success rate, they did really well,” King said of her students.
The main goal of any AP class is to help prepare students for college classes by giving students a heavier course load that is akin to what they can expect in a typical college class. And if students receive a score of three or higher, they can get college credit, making the freshmen college course load a bit lighter.
However, King also mentioned that AP courses are beneficial not only for the college prep, but for analytical thinking and for making students think in a different way.
When asked what her favorite part about teaching AP U.S. History is, King cited being able to watch her students become passionate about history.
“I love seeing my students really get into it… and engage with the past and make a connection with it and see how it impacts their own lives today and how it will impact their future... I always tell them to let their AP History nerd flag fly in my class,” King exclaimed.
The school district was also recognized not only for student achievement and increase in class accessibility, but for the district’s efforts in having AP classes be more available for underrepresented minorities.
“Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District also received an additional level of recognition from the College Board, as these outcomes have been achieved among a student population in which 30 percent or more are underrepresented minority students and or 30 percent or more are low-income students… the only district in Sonoma County to receive this honor,” according to the school district press release.