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MORE PUPILS PASS AP TESTS GIVEN IN MAY EXAMS CAN GIVE STUDENTS BOOST AS THEY ENTER COLLEGE.

Byline: Helen Gao Staff Writer

A record number of Los Angeles Unified students took the Advanced Placement exams this year, with more earning passing grades on the rigorous college-level tests but fewer receiving the highest score, according to results released Tuesday.

A total of 30,161 high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District took the exams in May, up 7 percent from a year earlier. Roughly 46.4 percent, or 13,994, passed the tests with a grade of 3 or better, on a scale of 1 to 5. In 2001, 45.8 percent of test-takers earned passing grades.

This year marks the first time since 1998 that the district's passing rate has increased.

District officials were thrilled with the high number of students taking the challenging exams, which are offered in 19 subjects, ranging from Spanish to physics and studio drawing. A passing grade of 3, 4, or 5 can earn a student college credit.

``To me, (the numbers are) an indicator of the district's culture that continues to say all students should have access to the most-challenging learning opportunities,'' said Maria Ott, senior deputy superintendent. ``I think it's a cultural shift.''

As in years past, San Fernando Valley schools were among those that administered the most tests in the greatest number of subjects. Four - North Hollywood, Granada Hills, Van Nuys and El Camino Real - placed within or near the nation's top 100 schools in the number of exams given.

And Birmingham High School in Van Nuys boasted the greatest increase in the number of exams given in the LAUSD. The school administered 538 exams in May compared to 205 in 2001, a jump of 162 percent.

Assistant Principal Marsha Rybin attributed the increase to the school's strong emphasis on higher education.

The school offers Advancement Via Individual Determination, a program that targets students who, because of family or socioeconomic background, need academic tutoring and encouragement to go to college.

``At Birmingham, our philosophy is that anybody who wants to take an AP class may, so (the students) do it,'' Rybin said.

Monroe High School in North Hills also saw more students take the exams, increasing from 509 tests taken in 2001 to 685 this year.

Principal Gregory Vallone said he emphasizes the importance of the AP program during freshman orientation each year, describing the role the exams play in college admissions and winning scholarships.

``I tell them what colleges look at is how you challenge yourself in high school with AP courses. Then they really start to get an idea that this is something important,'' he said.

``I tell them you want to have as many bells and whistles as possible to draw attention to yourself. AP is the way to do it.''

But Ott said whether students pass the AP exams or not, they benefit tremendously from exposure to college-level material.

``We absolutely believe that it gives students a desire to go on to higher ed,'' she said. ``They are taking course work that is like course work they will take at the university level, so when they successfully complete an AP course, they say, 'Why can't I go on to a university?'''

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LAUSD ADVANCED PLACEMENT SCORES

SOURCE: LAUSD
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Oct 2, 2002
Words:539
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