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Sunnyside 'Advanced Placement' students measuring up to statewide success story

Just as the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is handing out praise for Washington students' success on their advanced placement tests, seven Sunnyside High School students have been singled out for special AP honors.

"We have seven Sunnyside High School students who have earned the designation of AP Scholar this year," said Diana Kilian, SHS counselor.

She said the AP Scholar designation is given by the National College Board in recognition of the students' exceptional achievement on the college-level AP exams. Passing the tests gives the students college credits.

Local high school AP Scholar designees, who took their AP exams in May 2004, included Joshua Barr, Amy Kilian, Kyle Van de Graaf, Mayra Carrillo, Stacey Gorski, Brenden Scott and Elias Wise.

Barr and Kilian qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by earning a grade point average of at least 3.5 on all of their AP exams and grades of 3.0 or higher on five or more of their exams, explained Kilian. She said Van de Graaf qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor award by earning a grade point average of at least 3.25 on three exams and grades of 3.0 or higher on four other exams.

Carillo, Gorski, Scott and Wise each earned AP Scholar awards by compiling three or more AP examinations with grades of 3.0 or higher.

The National College Board, which administers the AP programs, recognized Washington as one of just six states in the nation to achieve the highest increase in the percentage of students demonstrating college level mastery of AP subjects. The results of the College Board's study of AP increases is included in its Report to the Nations statement recently released to education departments across the country.

Among the report's findings were increases in the number of students taking the AP exams. The percentage of Washington public school students in the class of 2004 who demonstrated mastery of the tough AP courses was 11.6 percent, up four percentage points over the 7.6 percent who attained mastery in the class of 2000.

The report also shows that more students now have access to the program and are attaining top scores of 3, 4, or 5 on the college level exam.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson gives credit for many of the impressive gains to Washington having successfully winning two, three-year federally-funded Advanced Placement Incentive Program grants.

She said the funds from the grant program helped train 200 teachers on how to deliver the rigorous AP curriculum and are helping to promote the development of AP and pre-AP programs in 87 low-income middle and high schools across the state.

The federal fee reduction program has also resulted in more low-income students having access to the AP exams. In 2000, close to 800 students taking the exams received fee reductions; that number grew to more than 2,300 students in 2004.

"I'm really proud of the gains our state has made with the Advanced Placement program," said Bergeson.

"More school and districts are embracing Advanced Placement as an opportunity to expose their students to the intense and rigorous curriculum, and are finding their students meeting the challenge," she added.

Kilian also had praise for the performance of SHS students who took the AP exams last spring. "This past year, 38 of our students averaged scores of 3.7 on their Spanish AP exam and 18 earned average scores of 3.1 on their European history tests," she said.

She said 13 students took the calculus AP test, earning an average score of 2.7, while the 41 English language and literature students earned an average of 2.7 and 2.3, respectively, on those AP exams.

Kilian said this year 93 Sunnyside High School students are enrolled in AP classes, which include intense classwork in chemistry, English composition, English literature, European history, U.S. history, calculus and Spanish.

"We may see students taking 149 tests this year," said Kilian, saying many of the 93 AP students are enrolled in more than one AP subject.

Bergeson stressed that Washington must continue to make sure that participation rates of traditionally underserved populations continue to rise, something Kilian is seeing in Sunnyside.

"We are definitely see more of our students in AP classes and successfully taking the exams," she said.

"It's a trend we continue to encourage," she added.

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