The efforts taken by the Malverne School District in recent years to improve their advanced placement performance have paid off.
The College Board, which is responsible for creating over 30 AP exams and overseeing corresponding courses, included Malverne in its latest AP Achievement List, which it released Wednesday.
The national list names 388 school districts from around the country that have increased the percentage of students taking the exams and improved their overall performance. Malverne was among 27 school districts in New York and 11 on Long Island that made the list. The other Long Island schools were Syosset, Copiague, Great Neck, Herricks, Hicksville, Massapequa, Sayville, West Islip, and Eastport-South Manor.
Malverne Superintendent James Hunderfund said that it felt great to be included among these Long Island schools.
"The students, teachers and administration really worked hard to move scores in the right direction," Hunderfund said. "Everyone committed to doing better."
In recent years, the district has added extra time for AP teachers to attend conferences, where they can meet with educators from districts that have excellent scores. He also said that there's been extra training for teachers and instruction time for students, who sometimes have double-periods to prepare for the exams.
"We've steadily moved upward and more students are taking AP exams today," he added. In the past year, 187 exams were taken by Malverne High School students, mostly junior and seniors, across 10 different subjects.
While the district has been encouraging more students to register for AP classes, Hunderfund said they make sure students understand the amount of work these courses entail before they committ.
'We don't want you in the class unless you're going to work," Hunderfund said.
The College Board pointed out in a press release that "the AP Achievement List is not necessarily a register of the highest-performing AP districts...even low-performing districts are included if they have been able to maintain or improve scores while expanding access."
When selecting schools for this year's list, the College Board reviewed AP exam data from 2008 to 2010, looking for increases in participation and access to the tests of at least 4 percent in large districts, 7 percent in medium-sized districts and 11 percent in small districts. Additionally, districts needed to either maintain or improve their performance when comparing the percentage of exams scoring 3 or higher in 2010 to 2008.
The College Board also looked to highlight districts that had a steady or increased percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students. Malverne received a special recognition for being one of the districts who had 50 percent or more of these students taking the exams. According to the board, this statistic, shows significant improvements in equity and quality among the nation’s historically underserved student populations.
“These districts are living proof that when access to AP is provided for the range and breadth of prepared and motivated students, districts can achieve even higher learning outcomes for their students — and the opportunity for so many more to earn college credit and placement — than when AP opportunities were restricted to a smaller segment of the high school population” said Trevor Packer, vice president of the Advanced Placement Program at the College Board.
While Hunderfund said this accomplishment should be celebrated, he thinks the district still has much room for improvement.
"This is not the end result in our quest for excellence," he said. "I would like to see more students scoring in the highest percentage."