Burbank Unified high school students continue to post gains every year since 2010 in numbers of students passing Advanced Placement exams. BUSD passing percentages are also higher than state and global averages for the annual exams, according to information from the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program.
“Through these five years, definitely we have been outperforming the state and the global average in terms of the percentage of students getting a three or higher,” said Director II of Secondary Education Emilio Urioste in his report to the Burbank Unified Board of Education.
Burbank High School offers 18 AP courses and John Burroughs High School offers 16 classes. Students aren’t required to take the AP exam held every May for their course, but most do. Some students from local private high schools also take the exams at BUSD high schools.
AP exams are graded with a score from one to five, with five being the top score. A three or higher is required to pass the exam and for the course to be eligible to receive college credit. Some colleges and universities require a score of five for the AP course to receive college credit.
District-wide, 312 BUSD students received the top score of five on the 2014 AP exam, added Urioste.
“Because the AP curriculum is so rigorous, participation in one or more AP courses is considered to be excellent preparation for a student to be successful in college,” said Urioste.
“As a part of the AP commitment to align its curriculum with current instructional practices in colleges and universities, the AP has begun to revise its courses and exams,” he continued. “The emphasis is now on critical thinking, inquiry, reasoning and communication skills. The curriculum is rigorous, research-based and patterned after introductory college courses.”
For the fall of 2014, Physics 1, Physics 2 and U.S. History have been revised. For the 2015-16 academic year, AP Art History and AP European History are planned for course revisions.
At JBHS, AP classes in Calculus, Government/Politics, Spanish Language and Statistics showed the most improved passing percentages for the past two years. At BHS, AP European History, AP English Language, AP English Literature and AP Statistics all posted the strongest gains.
AP courses with the greatest participation at the high schools are Biology, Calculus, English Language, European History, Government/Politics and U.S. History. In the 2013-14 school year, BHS had 524 students enrolled in AP classes and JBHS had 561 students enrolled in AP classes, added Urioste.
Currently, if BUSD does not offer a specific AP course, as there are 34 classes in the College Board AP Program, a student may be able to arrange an independent study with one of the high school teachers in order to prepare for the AP exam. There are no online opportunities at this time for BUSD students to take AP courses through the district.
The entire report along with additional charts and graphs breaking down percentages by class can be viewed and read on the district’s website.