CONTACT:   Hank Harris

 (310)-450-8338, x. 334


April 8, 2005


Report on Advanced Placement Program Indicates Accelerating Achievement at Santa Monica and Malibu High Schools


The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified District released a study of student participation and student achievement trends in Advanced Placement courses last night.  AP Courses, as these courses are frequently termed, provide high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college credit at their high school.  Dr. Donna Muncey, Director of Educational Services, presented the findings to the Board of Education Thursday night. 


A key finding of this report is that the Santa Monica (SAMOHI) and Malibu high schools’ Advanced Placement programs have grown rapidly over the last five years, and that students are scoring higher than ever before on the end-of-year AP Exams.  Dr. John E. Deasy, the Superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, long a proponent of expanding the district’s AP program offerings, announced,  “These courses are rigorous, highly academic, and on a par with courses offered at any UC or CSU campus.  That these programs are growing in Santa Monica and Malibu is reflective of our community’s accelerated commitment to high levels of student achievement – and more students scoring highly on the end-of-year AP exams reflects the acceleration of high levels of instruction in our schools.”


In fact, for many years the district has monitored students’ participation in AP Courses and success rates on the AP Exams. 


At Santa Monica High School, there are now 1,752 AP enrollments, up 63% since 2001.  In addition, there are now 59 sections of AP courses offered at Samohi, whereas four years ago there were just 37.   Perhaps more impressively, performance in AP classes has held steady or improved in most cases, as AP participation has experienced this rapid expansion.  AP Exams are national tests scored on a 1-5 scale; a score of “3” or higher is considered “passing,” and many universities will give full credit for a course in which a student scored a 4 or 5 on the AP Exam.  Two years ago, 43% of the Samohi scores on the AP Exams yielded a 4 or 5.   Last year, that rate rose to 47%.  Malibu High School’s students have also accelerated their achievement at the same time that the AP program has expanded there.  Currently there are 296 AP enrollments at Malibu, up from 240 four years ago.   There are 19 sections offered now, up from 16 in 2001.  And 42% of Malibu’s AP Exams yielded a 4 or 5, up from 38% the year before.


The report also recognized that while course enrollments are up, the number of enrolled students is staying steady.  This means that while students already taking AP courses are now taking more AP courses than before, there has not been a correlating increase in the number of students opting to take AP courses.  “The data informs our work,” Samohi CEO Dr. Ilene Straus remarked.  “We are proud of our increasing enrollment in AP classes, providing students with rigorous programs that help prepare them for strong post secondary success.  As we have increased enrollment, AP scores have continued to be strong. Our priorities are to continue increasing the representation of students of color and those who might not normally elect the AP program, and to provide support to ensure that they will be successful in this rigorous college aligned program.” 


This endeavor mirrors the district’s mission to close the achievement gap that exists both locally and nationally.  In a trend mirrored by districts across the nation, Asian and White students in Santa Monica-Malibu outperform other minority students on standardized exams including AP exams, and they also tend to enroll in more rigorous courses at higher levels.  Presently, four percent of African American students at Samohi are enrolled in at least one AP course and fourteen percent of Samohi’s Latino students participate.  Dr. Deasy proposed setting a 2005-06 minimum target participation rate of 12 percent for African American students, and 33 percent for Latino students.  The Superintendent articulated “it is the district’s conviction that far more students can be successful at higher levels of academic achievement if they believe in themselves and if they know that others believe in them.  When we encourage students to enroll in AP courses, we are saying to them – ‘we know you can do this.’”


Dr. Deasy also pointed to a final piece of the study, which showcased the dramatic increase in student success on the AP Exams in Chemistry, Physics C, Psychology, and Statistics over the last four years.  Samohi’s passing rate on the AP Chemistry Exam was only 29% in 2001, but rose to 76% in 2004.  Over the same period of time, the passing rate for AP Physics C jumped from 48% to 80%; for Psychology it rose from 16% to 67%, and for Statistics it rose from 30% to 73%.  “The tremendous increase in students’ success rates on these exams – among the most rigorous of the forty-two AP exams – is an accomplishment that we celebrate,” noted the Superintendent.  “The data clearly reveals an augmentation of instruction and learning over a relatively short amount of time.  We are proud of our students and our teachers for committing themselves to this level of work.”






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