The high performance of African-American students in advanced placement classes at Fulton County Schools has put the district in the running for the $1 million Board Prize for Urban Education.

The annual prize is given to districts that have the greatest performances and improvements and is the largest educational award in the country given to school districts.

Fulton is one of the six urban school districts in the nation using strategies to increase African American participation in AP programs and improve scores on AP tests. Cobb County School District is also on the list.

A report titled, “The Road to Equity: Expanding AP Access and Success for African-American Students,” documents Fulton’s achievements and how school systems are increasing college readiness for black students and creating a system where they can equal their white classmates.

“This report is eye-opening in how well our schools are doing, but to reach our strategic goal of increased college preparedness, we have to do more to engage all of our minority student populations,” Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa told Patch.

The report, conducted by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, found that these districts were able to raise AP test score without losing student participation. They analyzed four years of AP exams and passing rates for 75 districts whose demographics make them urban areas.

AP tests have proved important for students, allowing them to perform better upon entering college and giving them the option to test out of classes saving time for the student and money for the parent.

College Board research shows that students who have participated in AP courses have higher overall GPAs in college, roughly 1.5 points higher.

Fulton and the other districts recognized have implemented methods like expanding access to the gifted programs, educating parents on the benefits of AP classes and offering a rigorous curriculum beginning in elementary school. They’ve also offered teachers additional training and professional development and have continuously instilled confidence in students making it clear they have college potential, the report finds.

Another report, released by the Education Trust this month, found that the participation gap could be closed if every school with an AP program focused on enrolling its low-income students of color.

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