SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Congratulations are in order as Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 (SCVUSD35) in Arizona is named a College Board Advanced Placement® District of the Year for being the national leader among small-sized school districts — defined as having fewer than 8,000 students — in expanding access to Advanced Placement Program ® (AP®) courses while simultaneously improving AP Exam performance.
"The teachers and administrators in this district are clearly committed to ensuring that a more diverse population of students attains the benefits of AP—that they gain confidence, learn how to craft and defend arguments, earn college credit, and are ready to succeed in college," said Trevor Packer, head of the College Board's AP Program. "This award shows that Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District is challenging many students to achieve at the highest levels. Congratulations to all the educators, parents, and students whose dedication and hard work are behind this well-deserved recognition."
Students, teachers, district and school administrators with SCVUSD, as well as Arizona Department of Education officials, and College Board leadership celebrated these achievements with an event at Rio Rico High School on Wednesday, March 21.
SCVUSD35 was one of 447 school districts across the U.S. and Canada that achieved placement on the annual AP District Honor Roll. From this list, three AP Districts of the Year — one for each category of district population size: small, medium, and large — were selected based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data.
From 2015 to 2017, AP reported that Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District:
- 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 51 percent of all AP students scoring a 3 or higher in 2017.
- Increased student participation in AP by 14 percent annually while the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam increased from 38 percent to 51 percent since 2015.
- Increased the percentage of traditionally underrepresented minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam from 39 percent to 51 percent — an increase of 43 students since 2015. (94 percent or more of the AP students in Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District are American Indian, African American, Hispanic/Latino or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. In addition, SCVUSD35 is a Title I District.)
Increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher is the ideal scenario for a district's AP program, indicating that the 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 over $6,000 at a private institution.
"This award exemplifies the hard work and dedication of our students, teachers and families," said SCVUSD35 Superintendent David Verdugo in a recent news release. "Today we elevated our celebration to a national level demonstrating to others that we can achieve what many believe is unachievable. For this, I could not be more proud of our SCVUSD35 family."
In addition to celebratory events at the district level, all three winning districts will be honored in Houston, TX during the 2018 AP Annual Conference in July.