Monument Mountain Regional High School, Berkshire Hills honored for Advanced Placement gains

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By Saturday, Dec 6 Learning

Great Barrington — Superintendent Peter Dillon was on a bus in China recently when someone from The College Board gave him a little nudge. Monument Mountain Regional High School had just been honored by the Board, they told him. Monument is one of 547 schools in the U.S. and Canada to be placed on the 5th Annual AP District Honor Roll for increasing access to Advanced Placement course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

What this means is that the Berkshire Hills Regional School District is successfully encouraging students to challenge themselves by enrolling in rigorous course work. Since 2012, Monument has increased the number of students participating in AP while improving the number of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. “It is always affirming to be recognized for good work,” said Monument Mountain Principal Marianne Young. “Our students and our faculty have and continue to challenge themselves and each other, always asking, ‘What can we do better? What’s next?’ ”

“We’re proud of our students’ and faculty,” said Dillon. “Folks are passionate about learning and their efforts translate well to high achievement. In the coming years, we will work to encourage a wider range of students to participate in AP classes.”

More school districts are achieving this objective than ever before. 2014 is a milestone year for the AP District Honor Roll. Yet data from 2014 show that among African American, Hispanic, and Native American students with a high degree of readiness for AP, only about half of students are participating. The first step to delivering AP opportunities to students is by ensuring courses are available, that “gatekeeping” stops, and that the doors are equitably opened so these students can participate. Monument Mountain is committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.

“The devoted teachers and administrators in [Berkshire Hills] are delivering an undeniable benefit to their students: opportunity,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president of AP and Instruction. “When coupled with a student’s hard work, such opportunities can have myriad outcomes, whether building confidence, learning to craft effective arguments, earning credit for college, or persisting to graduate from college on time. We applaud your conviction that a more diverse population of students is ready for the sort of rigor that will prepare them for success in college.”

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. Many districts are experimenting with a variety of initiatives and strategies to determine how to simultaneously expand access and improve student performance.

In 2014, more than 3,800 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, and/or consideration in the admission process, with many colleges and universities in the United States offering credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores. Inclusion on the 5th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data, from 2012 to 2014, looking across 34 AP Exams, including world language and culture. The following criteria were used.

Districts must:

  • Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts, and at least 11 percent in small districts;
  • Increase or maintain the percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students; and
  • Improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2014 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2012, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70 percent of its AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

When these outcomes are achieved among an AP student population in which 30 percent or more are underrepresented minority students (Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native) and/or 30 percent or more are low-income students (students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch), a symbol has been affixed to the district name to highlight this work. 

“The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity,” says the College Board’s website. “Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education.

The complete 5th Annual AP District Honor Roll can be found here.

— H.B.


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