In a public school district that constantly strives to exceed expectations, the DeSoto County School District has again been recognized nationally and Canada for its work toward getting its students ready for college.
The College Board has announced that DeSoto County Schools has been placed on its Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll for the second straight year. It is the third time the district has been recognized.
The College Board is a non-for-profit organization that connects students to college success through programs and services in college readiness and college success.
Of equal significance this year is the fact that DCS is the only Mississippi school district to achieve the AP Honor Roll designation.
To receive the distinction, school districts must achieve levels in the numbers of students taking Advanced Placement courses and show growth from past years in those figures. DeSoto County Schools had to show at least four percent growth in the number of students taking the courses that can give them college credit and make them more ready to start that next part of their learning career.
At the same time, the College Board requires districts increase or maintain the number of minority students taking AP exams and also improve or maintain the performance levels at which more than 70 percent of its AP students earn a certain passing level on their exams.
“We offer Advanced Placement classes at all of our high schools,” Supt. Cory Uselton said. “This is an opportunity for our students to earn college credit while at the same time earning credit that goes toward their high school diploma. The classes are taught at a college level and at the end of the course, students take an exam and if they earn a passing grade on the exam, they earn college credit.”
Uselton said there are 18 different AP courses available in the district.
“We’re trying to offer as many college credit opportunities as we can to our students,” said Uselton. “We offer college credit through our Advanced Placement program and our dual enrollment program. Advanced Placement classes are taught on our campuses by our teachers and are taught in conjunction with the credits that are needed for high school gradation.”
State education officials are recognizing DeSoto County Schools for the achievement at its Dec. 14 state Department of Education board meeting, when Uselton and Dr. April Hollifield-Scott, who oversees the AP program at the district level, will be on hand.
“I feel that we, as a school district, have an obligation to challenge all of our students to achieve at a high level,” Uselton said. “I believe this is a quite an honor in that it shows the school district is preparing our students that do want to get a jump start on college and we’re allowing them to, hopefully, get a head start on their career.”
Advanced Placement courses are taught in all of the four core subject areas, English, history, math and science. AP courses are also taught in art and computer science.
“This is a testament to the hard work of our students, teachers, school staff and administrators,” said Uselton about the national honor. “I’m very proud to see them receive this recognition, especially as the only school district in the state to receive this honor. Our teachers are going above and beyond to make sure our students are prepared for college.”
In fact, away from their normal instructional responsibilities, AP teachers take special training and must be certified to teach AP classes.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.