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Stow -- An ongoing initiative of the Stow-Munroe Falls School District to promote student success in and access to AP courses has earned national attention.
The local school district is one of 539 named to the College Board's annual Advanced Placement District Honor Roll -- a distinction reserved for school districts that simultaneously increase access to Advanced Placement course work while also increasing the amount of students earning scores of 3 or higher (on a 5-point scale) on AP Exams.
"We're really proud of the effort of our teachers, students and administrators in achieving the AP Honor Roll status," said Superintendent Dr. Russ Jones. "One of our goals has been, over the years, to enhance the rigor of our academic offerings, and this is clear evidence that we have done so and continue to do so."
Since 2010, Jones said, the district has increased the number of high school students participating in AP from 239 to 302 in the high school's overall student body of roughly 1,800 while also raising the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher to 78 percent.
"Just a small percentage of schools around the country are awarded this," Jones noted, "so we're simply honored by this recognition."
This year's distinction is the second time the district has placed on the AP Honor Roll in three years -- the district was first recognized last year.
Chris DiMauro, Stow-Munroe Falls High School principal, said the recognition is a combined effort of both students and faculty.
"This promotes that high-quality academic atmosphere, which is the path we're trying to promote to our kids," he said.
He noted how students can earn college credit with high scores on AP Exams, which can save families money on college costs as many students often leave the high school with 15 to 18 college credit hours under their belts.
He said the rigor of the corresponding AP coursework also better prepares students for the more demanding college atmosphere.
"We applaud the extraordinary efforts of the devoted teachers and administrators in this district, who are fostering rigorous work worth doing," said College Board President David Coleman in a prepared statement. "These educators have not only expanded student access to AP course work, but they have enabled more of their students to achieve on a college-level -- which is helping create a strong college-going culture."
DiMauro said the high school intends to promote AP coursework even further, too.
Out of a possible 34 AP courses available to all schools, the Stow-Munroe Falls High School currently offers about 20. The most popular is AP Government.
Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, DiMauro said the school will offer an AP Environmental Science class. He said the district is considering other AP courses as well -- some being in the social studies realm -- but others haven't been finalized.
"There has been a great victory among educators who have believed that a more diverse population could indeed succeed in AP courses. In 2012, AP scores were higher than they had been since 2004, when one million fewer students were being given access," said Trevor Packer, the College Board's senior vice president of the Advanced Placement Program, in a prepared statement. "These outcomes are a powerful testament to educators' beliefs that many more students were indeed ready and waiting for the sort of rigor that would prepare them for what they would encounter in college."
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