Juneau schools make the honor roll for AP testing

A multiple choice exam. (Creative Commons photo by Alberto G. )

The Juneau School District is one of the first in Alaska to make the AP District Honor Roll, a prestigious recognition for districts that increased the percentage of students who took and passed Advanced Placement tests.

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Juneau School District Superintendent Mark Miller explained how the tests work.

“(A) student takes a college level course that we give at high school and at the end they take a test,” Miller said. “If they score a three, four (or) five, typically colleges will give them credit.”

Five is the highest score.

The College Board, the organization that offers AP tests, has an honor roll for districts. To make the list, a district has to meet three criteria over three consecutive years.

“One, increase the number of AP tests given – meaning more students are taking more tests,” Miller said. “Second, while you increase the number of students taking tests, you also increase the scores … average scores of students taking the tests.”

Juneau School District’s percentage of students who took the exam had to go up by at least 11 percent to qualify. Larger districts have to increase participation by 4 to 6 percent.

For its third requirement, the district had to increase or maintain its percentage of minority students who scored at least a three on at least one exam.

Miller believes having two separate high schools has made it easier to schedule students into AP courses. He also thinks the achievement is a result of training more teachers to teach AP classes and the administration’s work to make the tests available to as many students as possible.

“It’s really about pushing for equity, pushing to make sure all of our students succeed, pushing students to do their best regardless of their background or where they come from,” Miller said.

Miller said the AP courses and tests prepare students for college-level classes, and if they score well, they could save thousands of dollars in college tuition.

The honor roll dates back to 2011. According to the College Board, Juneau School District is the second Alaskan school district to make the list. The Anchorage School District made last year’s honor roll.