The El Monte Union High School District Named the College Board's Advanced Placement District of the Year

District recognized for increasing access and performance, particularly for traditionally underrepresented minority students

EL MONTE, Calif. — The El Monte Union High School District (EMUHSD) in California has been named the College Board Advanced Placement Equity and Excellence District of the Year for being the nation's leader, among medium-sized school districts, in simultaneously expanding access to Advanced Placement Program (AP) courses and improving AP Exam performance. El Monte's students, teachers, board of trustees, district and school administrators, local public officials, and College Board leaders will celebrate these achievements during an award ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 6. 

"The College Board is proud to recognize the students, faculty, and administrators of El Monte Union High School District for their innovation and commitment to excellence and equity," said College Board President David Coleman.  

In November 2013, El Monte was one of 477 school districts across the U.S. and Canada that achieved placement on the Annual AP District Honor Roll. From this list, three AP Districts of the Year - one for each category of district population size: small, medium, and large - were selected based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data. From 2010 to 2013, El Monte:
* Increased student participation in AP by 6 percent annually;
* Increased the percentage of AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 5 percent annually, with 55 percent of their AP students scoring 3 or higher in 2013; and
* Increased the percentage of traditionally underserved minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 10 percent annually - an increase of 62 students last year. 
Increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher is the ideal scenario for a district's AP program, indicating that the district is successfully preparing a larger array of its students for the rigor of AP and college studies. 

"The El Monte Union High School District is a shining example of what can happen when educators insist on providing the highest-quality education for every student -  no matter their zip code or background. Through the rigorous course work of Advanced Placement, these schools are better preparing students for success in college and beyond," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "I hope that El Monte can serve as a model for school districts across the country on how raising the bar leads to more - not less - success for every student."
El Monte attributes much of its student success to the implementation of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, which provides students with support, motivation, and preparation for success in AP courses. 
"This recognition is due to the hard work of our students, teachers, and staff members in providing support and motivation for our students to reach higher goals," said Superintendent Nick Salerno. "We are extremely proud of our students and staff members." 
The district has also increased college enrollment and completion rates with their Partnership for College - a program which assures students a one-time priority registration at Rio Hondo Community College, offering them their choice of courses for the first semester and a guaranteed transfer to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) or California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) at a later date. Students from El Monte Union High School District schools can also earn automatic admission to UCI or CSULA, if they meet certain criteria for the program. 
"El Monte is succeeding in aligning an entire community - from principals and teachers to parents and students - to the goal of college and career readiness," said Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and Instruction. "As a result, El Monte is achieving simultaneous gains in access to AP courses and success rates on AP Exams that outpace other districts of its size." 

The El Monte Union High School District is the medium-sized district - defined as between 8,000 and 49,999 students - selected to receive this year's College Board Advanced Placement Equity and Excellence District of the Year Award. In addition to celebratory events at the district level, all three winning districts will be honored during the AP Annual Conference in Philadelphia in July 2014.

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective shared by all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. Many are experimenting with a variety of initiatives and strategies to determine how to expand access and improve student performance simultaneously.

About the Advanced Placement Program

The College Board's Advanced Placement Program (AP) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies - with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both - while still in high school. Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue - skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admission officers that students have sought the most rigorous curriculum available to them, and research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students. Each AP teacher's syllabus is evaluated and approved by faculty from some of the nation's leading colleges and universities, and AP Exams are developed and scored by college faculty and experienced AP teachers. Most four-year colleges and universities in the United States grant credit, advanced placement, or both on the basis of successful AP Exam scores - more than 3,300 institutions worldwide annually receive AP scores. In the last decade, participation in the AP Program has more than doubled and graduates succeeding on AP Exams have nearly doubled. In May 2013, 2.2 million students representing more than 18,000 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took approximately 4 million AP Exams.