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College Board Selects Columbia Heights Public Schools as 2016 Advanced Placement Small District of the Year

The College Board has selected Columbia Heights Public Schools (CHPS) as the 2016 Advanced Placement® (AP) District of the Year.

The College Board is recognizing CHPS for being the national leader among small school districts and for expanding access to AP Program courses while simultaneously improving AP Exam performance. Approximately 290 Columbia Heights High School students (35 percent) are enrolled in at least one of 17 AP courses offered.

image Pictured (left to right): Columbia Heights High School Assistant Principal Dr. Laura McLuen, Michael O'Leary (Class of 2016), Emily Brousseau (Class of 2016), Senior Vice President for AP and Instruction at the College Board Trevor Packer, Columbia Heights High School Principal Dan Wrobleski, Domenica Llerena (Class of 2016), Superintendent Kathy Kelly, Clifton Lovaloy (Class of 2016) and Luis Carchi (CHHS Class of 2015 and Princeton University Class of 2019).  Click here for more photos.

Columbia Heights Public Schools was also named one of only 425 school districts in the United States and Canada selected for the 2016 AP District Honor Roll. The College Board then selected three districts to be named AP Districts of the Year - one for each category of district population : small, medium, and large - based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data. The small district category is defined as school districts with fewer than 8,000 students - CHPS has approximately 3,000 students enrolled.

"It is an extraordinary honor for Columbia Heights Public School District to be selected as the 2016 AP Small District of the Year," said Superintendent Kathy Kelly. "Our District strives to create worlds of opportunity for every learner and what better way to support student real-world success than by creating college and career-ready graduates."

According to Kelly, "This award is a testament to the incredible work of our teachers and staff who put student achievement as their number one priority. Most significantly, our School District has expanded access to academic rigor for a broader spectrum of students whose performance in AP classes is exceptional. To be the recipient of this award is a tremendous honor for our district, our communities and the State of Minnesota," she said.

"This award shows that the teachers and administrators at Columbia Heights are challenging students to achieve at the highest levels," said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President of AP and Instruction at the College Board . "They are succeeding in helping students attain the benefits of the AP Program-to gain confidence, learn to craft effective arguments, earn credit for college, and eventually graduate from college on time. The College Board applauds the district's leadership to ensure that a more diverse population of students is prepared to succeed in college." -more-

From 2013 to 2015, Columbia Heights Public Schools:

  • Simultaneously and continuously increased the number of students taking AP classes while improving successful outcomes (a score of 3 or higher) on AP Exams, with 48 percent of all AP students scoring a 3 or higher in 2015
  • Increased student participation in AP by 26 percent annually and the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 6 percent annually
  • Increased the percentage of traditionally underrepresented minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 62 percent annually - an increase of 30 students since 2013. (47 percent or more of the AP students at CHPS is American Indian, African American, or Hispanic/Latino. In addition, 67 percent or more of the AP students in the district qualify for free or reduced-price lunch).

According to the College Board, increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher is the ideal scenario for an AP program, indicating that the school district is successfully preparing a larger array of its students for the rigor of AP and college studies. Participating in AP course work can also lead to college savings for families because the typical student who scores a 3 or higher on two AP Exams has the potential to save, on average, $1,779 at a public four-year college and more than $6,000 at a private institution.

The District accepted the award from the College Board at ceremony held April 6 at CHHS. The District will also receive a $10,000 award from the College Board and be honored in Anaheim, California at the 2016 AP Annual Conference in July.