By John McCallum

Cheney School District named to College Board advance placement honor roll


The Cheney School District is one of 19 in the state, three in Spokane County, and 539 districts across 44 of the nation’s 50 states and Canada to be named to the College Board’s third annual AP District Honor Roll for “simultaneously increasing access to advanced placement course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.”

According to a Nov. 13 press release announcing the selections, since 2010 the school district has increased the number of AP students by 44 percent. Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens attributed the increase to the district substituting advance placement curriculum for fourth year or honors level curriculum.

Some upper level courses in U.S. History and statistics were added, with current teachers in those areas receiving local and national training on AP curriculum.

“That’s how we’ve increased the access,” Clemens said. “Not only are we increasing the number who are participating but we are increasing the number scoring three or above.”

According to the news release the school district has added 31 students since 2010 to the rolls of those achieving a score of 3 or higher. Clemens said the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has been a supporter of districts’ efforts to provide AP curriculum, which is better known among colleges and universities nationally than honors curriculum.

Over 90 percent of colleges and universities nationally offer college credit, advance placement or both for students achieving a score of 3 or above, generating higher education cost savings for students and families. According to the news release, AP scores in 2012 were the highest they’d been since 2004 when 1 million fewer students were given access.

Clemens said the district results have come about through the hard work of teachers and administrators in implementing the curriculum, not just in high school but at lower grade levels as well.

“Over the last five years, slowly and thoughtfully we’ve added programs,” she said. “You can’t just do this as a senior teacher. You need this type of (instructional) rigor at the previous grade levels. That helps make them more successful.”

Inclusion on the College Board AP District Honor Roll is based on three years of data and the following criteria:

• Increased participation/access to AP by at least 4, 6 and 11 percent in large, medium and small school districts,

• Ensure the percentage of minority students taking AP exams does not decrease by 5 percent for large and medium districts, 10 percent for small and,

• Improve performance levels when comparing students in 2010 and 2012 scoring a 3 or higher, unless the district has attained a performance level in which more than 70 percent of the AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

“We applaud the extraordinary efforts of the devoted teachers and administrators in this district who are fostering rigorous work worth doing,” College Board president David Coleman said in the release. It was applause Clemens joined in.

“Training for our teachers is important,” she said, noting that CHS assistant principal Ray Picicci played a lead role in implementing the AP program. “They’re the ones who deserve the credit.”

John McCallum can be reached at


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