Yuma Union High School District Celebrating AP Successes

Author: Toni Badone, Superintendent, Yuma Union High School District

July 10, 2015

What are we celebrating?  The percentage of our students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams who score a 3, 4 or 5 increased from 25 percent in 2006 to 32 percent in 2014.  That is a positive increase and is reflective of our commitment that every student must be ready for college and career by the time they graduate. 

However, perhaps more exciting is the fact that the percentage of our students who took the exams grew from 5 percent to 22 percent during those same years.  We have over 10,000 high school students.  In 2001, only 89 YUHSD students took AP exams.  In 2006, 489 students took AP exams.  In 2014, 2,283 students took AP exams.  The increase in scores from 25 percent to 32 percent represents hundreds more who passed a college level exam while in high school. 

When Yuma Union saw huge jumps in the numbers of students taking AP courses, the percentage of passing scores actually went down before going up.  It took five years to get back to 25 percent.  But the actual number of students who achieved passing scores went up, by hundreds. 

There was another statistically large increase in the number of students taking the exams from 2012 to 2014.  This increase was in concert with our initiative of Ready Now Yuma, thanks to Helios support.  The increase in exam takers also resulted in a decrease in passing scores from a high of 34 percent in 2012 to 32 percent in 2014.  The decrease was predictable but more actual students achieved passing scores than ever before.

What are we really celebrating?  We are most happy that the percentage of minority students taking AP exams mirrors the percentage of minority students in our district, a statistic that is completely opposite of what was happening in 2001.

We are celebrating that many of our students are taking both CTE and AP courses.  They are personalizing their schedules and their five-year plans, as opposed to following a “track” created by adults. 

We are also celebrating a 32 percent reduction in suspensions over the last four years, which represents over a thousand fewer disciplinary suspensions, as a result of our work in classrooms.

Our lesson is one from agriculture.  Culture change happens like plants grow.  It is a natural process that takes time.  Our essential ingredients are: 

  1. A belief in every student demonstrated through practices of both equity AND excellence.
  2. A belief in every adult who impacts our students’ lives, including their teachers, their families, and their principals, demonstrated through our commitment to adult learning.
  3. Consistent, persistent, patient practices of paying attention to internal data and the voices of those who are directly involved, regardless of outside distractions and demands for artificial and unnatural accountability measures. 

Our students are engaged, challenged, and supported in their classes, and therefore prepared more than ever before.  They are Ready Now Yuma.  

Category: College and Career Readiness

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