Downey, Warren outpacing national average for AP exams

Presented with the Shared Values Award in the area of Student Achievement Tuesday night, Downey and Warren high schools’ Advanced Placement (AP) Coordinators, Christina Carlson (DHS) on left and Shirley Stewart (WHS) on right, are nothing but smiles as they stand next to school board president Tod Corrin, Superintendent Dr. John Garcia and their fellow administrators.

Presented with the Shared Values Award in the area of Student Achievement Tuesday night, Downey and Warren high schools’ Advanced Placement (AP) Coordinators, Christina Carlson (DHS) on left and Shirley Stewart (WHS) on right, are nothing but smiles as they stand next to school board president Tod Corrin, Superintendent Dr. John Garcia and their fellow administrators.

DOWNEY – Earning a spot on the fifth annual AP Honor Roll last year, Downey Unified has now exceeded both the California and the U.S./Canada Advanced Placement (AP) averages for both student enrollment and students who pass the AP exam with a score of three and above. 

Both Downey and Warren high schools were honored with the Shared Values Award in the area of Student Achievement at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night for the achievement.

A five-year look at AP statistics in California, U.S./Canada and Downey Unified schools (2011-2015) show that the total number of students enrolled increased by 23 percent in California, 26 percent within the U.S. and Canada, and 56 percent within Downey Unified; higher than both the state and U.S./Canada average.

The total number of exams taken have increased to 61 percent within Downey Unified’s two comprehensive high schools, compared to an increase of 27 percent within California and 30 percent throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

Downey Unified also announced an increase of 55 percent of students who have taken and passed the AP exam with a score of three or higher since 2011, which is more than double the state average of 23 percent and the U.S./Canada average of 27 percent. 

Downey Unified was one of 547 districts across the U.S. and Canada that were honored for increasing access to AP coursework while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of three or higher on AP Exams. 

“We believe students must have access to a positive and challenging learning environment to guide and inspire them in realizing their individual potential and to ensure they graduate college and career ready,” said Leslie Jones, assistant superintendent of Educational Services for Downey Unified. 

Exams are scored on a scale of one to five with a minimum of three being the target. A score of three is “qualified” which means the student has proven themselves capable of doing the work of an introductory-level college course in a particular subject. 

Many colleges and universities grant credit and placement for scores of three, four, or five; however, each college decides which scores it will accept. 

Taking AP courses increases eligibility for scholarships and makes candidates more attractive to colleges. Thirty-one percent of colleges and universities consider a student’s AP experience when making decisions about which students will receive scholarships. 

Eighty-five percent of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admissions decisions.

There are more than 1,000 school districts in California, and Downey Unified was chosen as one of the 34 other California school districts to be on the AP Honor Roll. Reaching this goal means that Downey Unified has successfully identified motivated, academically-prepared students who are likely to benefit from rigorous AP coursework. Advanced Placement programs were designed to allow students a chance to earn college credit while still in high school. This program currently boasts more than 30 college-level course options that include a cumulative exam at the end, called the AP Exam, which enables students to receive college credit for material covered. 

The AP program also shows college admissions boards that students are able to handle the rigors of a postsecondary curriculum. There are 187 students combined from both comprehensive high schools that earned the designation of AP Scholar by the College Board.

Approximately 14 percent of the more than 1.8 million high school students worldwide who pursued the AP Exams performed at a sufficiently high level to merit the recognition of AP Scholar.