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AP test scores soar for MVLA

Both the number of students who take advanced placement (AP) exams and the number of students who pass them are at an all-time high in the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District.

A total of 1,370 students in the district took AP exams during the 2013-14 school year, approximately 15 percent more than the 1,196 students who took AP exams the previous year, according to district officials. Students in the district took 2,602 AP exams, a 15 percent increase from the 2,264 tests taken the previous year.

Overall, 2,192 of the tests taken received passing scores of three out of five or higher, around 84 percent of tests taken.

"We're trying to get more student involved in these (AP) classes and doing well," Superintendent Barry Groves said.

A press release from the district said that students in the district surpassed the national average AP score distribution on many fronts.

MVLA students who took either the Calculus AB exam or the Calculus BC exam passed at an 88 percent rate. Nationally, approximately 59 percent of students who took the Calculus AB exam passed and approximately 81 percent of students who took the Calculus BC exam passed, according to the district.

Of the 338 MVLA students who took one of two AP English exams, 86 percent of the students passed. Approximately 59 percent of students who take the English Literature and Composition exam pass nationally, and approximately 55 percent of students who take the English Language and Composition exam pass nationally.

In addition, 77 percent of MVLA students who took an exam focusing on history or government passed, district officials said.

Groves attributed the success that district students had on the AP exams to the curriculum from ninth through twelfth grade, the training and quality of the instruction and students' work ethic and commitment.

"We have very dedicated students," Groves said.

Groves called the MVLA high school curriculum "comprehensive" and said that even though the district for the most part focuses on science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) courses, it still aims to provide significant rigor in its humanities courses.

Publications like Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report factor high schools' performance on AP exams in their rankings. Groves said that college admission offices look at how high schools perform on AP exams when they determine which students to admit.

Scores of three or higher can earn high school students course credit at the colleges in which they choose to enroll.

Students have the option of taking 31 different AP tests during the examination period that takes place each year in May. Groves said that schools in the Mountain View-Los Altos school district offer 23 AP classes that prepare students for specific AP tests.

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