The College Board singled out the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District as the 2020 Advanced Placement District of the Year among medium-sized school districts.

Los Fresnos and the College Board celebrated the distinction during an assembly at Los Fresnos High School on Tuesday. The district was recognized as the national leader among districts having between 8,000 and 50,000 students. Each year the award is given to a large, medium and small district that expands access to AP Program courses while simultaneously improving AP Exam performance, particularly among traditionally underrepresented minority students.

“Today’s recognition is a testament of what is possible when we work together with a common vision and laser-like focus for student success,” Superintendent Gonzalo Salazar said. “This is what happens when we commit to continuous improvement and when we work tirelessly to ensure all students achieve their full potential.”

Salazar said that while AP exams are taken in high school preparation begins much earlier in elementary and middle school.

Los Fresnos was one of 250 school districts across the U.S. and Canada that achieved placement on the annual AP District Honor Roll. Twenty-five Texas school districts were honored, including two others from the Rio Grande Valley.

From this list, three AP Districts of the Year, one for each category of district population, were selected based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data.

“I would like to acknowledge that a large part of the equation in what our students have achieved is a direct result of their hard work and their willingness to enroll in courses with increased rigor. While they are still in high school, students are making conscious decisions about their futures,” he said.

In 2019, Los Fresnos students took more than 400 individual tests across 18 different subject areas, achieving passing percentages above Texas and global passing percentages on 14 of the 18 subject tests they challenged. Students earned college credit by demonstrating mastery of the learning objectives with passing rates of 80% or better on: AP statistics, U.S. History, Spanish, physics, biology, and calculus, and 39 of those students earned the recognition of AP Scholar, Salazar said.

Trevor Packer, head of the College Board’s AP Program, said winning the award shows Los Fresnos is “consistently challenging many students to achieve at the highest levels.” He added that “the teachers and administrators in this district are clearly committed to ensuring that a more diverse population of students attains the benefits of AP through success in a wide variety of AP subjects.”

The award is based on three years of AP data, from 2017 through 2019, which shows that during that time Los Fresnos:

>> Simultaneously and continuously increased the number of students taking AP classes while improving successful outcomes (a score of 3 or higher) on AP Exams, with 71% of all AP students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one exam in 2019;

>> Increased student participation in AP by 7% annually and the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 5% annually; and

>> Increased the percentage of traditionally underrepresented minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 5% annually — an increase of 37 students since 2017.

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 district said.

Participating in AP course work can also lead to college savings for families because the typical student who scores a 3 or higher on two AP Exams has the potential to save, on average, $1,779 at a public four-year college and over $6,000 at a private institution.

In addition to celebratory events at the district level, all three winning districts will be honored in Boston, Mass., during the 2020 AP Annual Conference in July.

In 2019, more than 4,000 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, and/or consideration in the admission process, with many colleges and universities in the U.S. offering credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores.