District one of 11 to win honor

The Elk River Area School District is one of only 11 school districts in Minnesota, and fewer than 400 nationwide, to be selected by the College Board for its Second Annual Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll.

The district is honored for simultaneously increasing access to AP coursework while maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP exams.

“This school district has achieved something very remarkable; it managed to open the doors of its AP classrooms to many more students, while also increasing the percentage of students earning high enough AP exam grades to stand out in the competitive college admission process and qualify for college credit and placement,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president of Advanced Placement and College Readiness.

Inclusion on the AP District Honor Roll is based on the following criteria:
1. Examination of three years of AP data, from 2009 to 2011;
2. Increase in participation in/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;
3. A steady or increasing percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students; and
4. Performance levels maintained or improved when comparing the percentage of students in 2011 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2009, or the school has already attained a performance level in which more than 70 percent of the AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

Since 2009, the Elk River district has increased the number of students participating in AP exams from 517 to 675 while improving the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher from 50 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2011. The majority of U.S. colleges and universities grant college credit or advanced placement for a score of 3 or above on AP exams.

Superintendent Mark Bezek gives all the credit to the district’s AP teachers. “This is a tremendous achievement and honor for ISD 728,” he said. “Our AP teachers have done and continue to do absolutely amazing things in their classrooms; they epitomize our mission of educating, inspiring and empowering.”
When told of the national recognition, four of the district’s AP teachers were ecstatic.

“My position has allowed me to see first-hand that Superintendent Bezek is correct when he gives credit to the AP teachers,” said Tom Fuller, coordinator of the Challenge Program for the Gifted and Talented. “They are an outstanding group of dedicated teachers who hold their students to rigorous standards and prepare them well for the AP testing season.”

“I personally believe AP classes are the best classes students can take in order to prepare themselves for college,” said Zimmerman High School AP world history teacher Matt Kraus.

“As an AP teacher, I am proud that our district is being recognized for all the hard work both teachers and students put into the AP classes.”

“Advanced Placement courses in our school give our students the opportunity to stretch themselves intellectually,” said Rogers High School AP math teacher Gina Lammers. “I have had many students come back during their first year in college calculus to tell me how valuable their year of taking AP calculus was for them.”

Rana Nestrud, AP studio art teacher at Elk River High School, said, “I have great respect for the College Board and the work they do, it’s really exciting to have them acknowledge our district.”

The district released its 2011 Advanced Placement Report late last week; it can be accessed and downloaded at www.elkriver.k12.mn.us/2011APrpt.