Gulfport School District makes international honor roll - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport School District makes international honor roll

Gulfport is one of only three districts in Mississippi to make the College Board's AP Honor Roll. (Photo source: WLOX) Gulfport is one of only three districts in Mississippi to make the College Board's AP Honor Roll. (Photo source: WLOX)
The district spent close to $40,000 to cover the cost of the exams, which cost $87 each. That decision resulted in a substantial increase in participation. (Photo source: WLOX) The district spent close to $40,000 to cover the cost of the exams, which cost $87 each. That decision resulted in a substantial increase in participation. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

The Gulfport School District is getting international attention for making significant progress in helping students prepare for college. Gulfport is one of only three districts in Mississippi to make the College Board's AP Honor Roll.

AP Calculus is one of 13-Advanced Placement courses offered at Gulfport High School.

"I'm trying to challenge myself and prepare myself for the rigors of college," said Gulfport High Senior Matthew Edwards.

"The work they give us and the way they set their expectations for us is how college is and it pretty much puts you aside," said Gulfport High Senior Brooke Huber.

Gulfport High's efforts to increase student access to those college-level courses have landed the district on the College Board AP Honor Roll. Gulfport is one of only 547-districts across the United States and Canada to make the prestigious list.

Last year, the participation rate at Gulfport High jumped from 72-students to 201. The number of students who took the AP exam also increased from 111 to 418, and the number of students who scored three or higher also rose from 16 to 69.

"I was actually thrilled with our student's performance and it's just a good sign for Gulfport," said Tess Lawrence, Gulfport High's AP Coordinator and Assistant Principal.

Lawrence said more students took the tests, because they were free. Last year, the district actually paid for the exams, which cost $87 each.

"The number of minority students that we actually tested went up, and also, because they were able to take the exam, and by the district paying for the exam, it reduced the financial burden for those students as well," said Lawrence.

"It's an incentive. Because the tests are a lot and if you're taking a lot of classes and having to pay for all those, at the same time, it's really rigorous classes and you're kind of hesitant about it, you may not want to do it," said Edwards.

The district spent close to $40,000 to cover the cost of the exams. That financial incentive seems to be paying off.

"By taking the initiative for our district's standpoint to pay for the exams, we've reduced the financial burden that's often placed on our students, and they can concentrate on just excelling," said Lawrence.

"It's really a privilege that we actually get to go here and know that we have one of the top programs and it's succeeding in what it's intending to do and it's to prepare ourselves for the future and prepare ourselves for higher education," said Edwards.

School leaders say students who take AP courses can enjoy other benefits, like an increase in the percentage of their GPA, more scholarship opportunities, and if they score well on the exams, they could be exempt from certain college courses.

Along with Gulfport, the Jones County and Starkville School Districts also made the AP Honor Roll. All three Mississippi districts received awards during a recent ceremony in Jackson.

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