Students in Wake County public schools, especially those in minority groups, have signed up in increasing numbers for advanced-placement courses and exams during the past three years.
The trend earned the system national recognition Monday, with a place on the national AP District Honor Roll presented by the College Board, school officials announced.
AP courses, typically more difficult than others in the curriculum, offer students a chance to earn advanced credit at many colleges. Increasing AP participation in Eastern Wake has been a particular focus.
Knightdale High School saw 268 more students enroll in AP courses this year, a 17 percent increase from last year and the second straight yearly increase in students in the rigorous classes.
Whereas past AP classes at Knightdale had as few as six students, each of this year’s 17 classes is full. However, a low number of students still took end-of-course tests.
“We allowed ourselves to stop worrying about the tests. It’s not about the test, it’s really about the rigor,” Knightdale Assistant Principal David Newkirk said earlier.
Wake superintendent Jim Merrill called increased AP involvement one of the surest ways to improve a school’s academic success: “Simply put, these gains tell us more students will be better prepared on the day they graduate,” he said.
Systems have to reach specific benchmarks to be placed on the honor roll list. These include:
• Increases in access to and participation in AP classes. Wake County’s 11 percent increase outpaced the required 4 percent hike.
• Increases or maintenance of the share of exams taken by African-American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students. Wake showed a 21.4 percent increase among African-American students, 22.6 percent among Hispanics and 82.8 percent among American Indians.
• Improved share during the three years of students scoring a 3 or higher. Wake’s 79 percent figure outpaced the national average, 57 percent.
Wake was the only large state district to earn the award; Kannapolis, Thomasville and Sampson County schools also made the list.