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San Diego Schools Narrow Racial Gap On AP Tests

Aired 6/5/13 on KPBS News.

The Broad Foundation has singled out San Diego schools for narrowing the gap between African American and white students who take and pass Advanced Placement tests.

— San Diego Unified was one of just six large urban school districts across the country to make progress in narrowing the gap between black and white students who take and pass Advanced Placement exams, according to a report from The Broad Foundation that was released Tuesday.

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A student takes a California state mandated test at James Logan High School in Union City, California.

The number of students of taking the tests, which can qualify them for college credit, is up nationally. But more participation has meant lower passing rates in most places.

Between 2008 and 2011, the portion of San Diego Unified's African American students taking rigorous Advanced Placement classes held steady. But of those who took the year-end exam, the pass rate increased faster than passing rates for their white classmates.

District leaders said federal grants helped the district train staff to counsel more students into the challenging classes.

“So now, our principals, they expect all students to be placed in the most difficult course," said Nellie Meyer, deputy superintendent for academics at San Diego Unified. "And our teachers are equipped to teach students with different learning styles.”

Still, in 2011, 28 percent of the district’s white students took AP classes and 67 percent of them passed the year-end exam. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of African American students took at least one of the classes and 28 percent of them passed the test.

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