College Board honors Trumbull High's AP performance

It isn’t just students that eagerly await their scores from the College Board. Turns out, school districts get graded by the organization, too.

The Trumbull Public School System is one of 447 districts in the United States and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the eighth annual AP District Honor Roll. To be included on the list, Trumbull schools had to increase the number of students participating in Advanced Placement classes while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of three (out of five) or higher. Reaching these goals shows that this district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for AP.

“We had always had students who did well in AP classes, but our numbers enrolled in those classes were low,” said Superintendent Gary Cialfi. “So our challenge was to enhance enrollment while also increasing or maintaining our scores.”

According to Jonathan Budd, curriculum, instruction and assessments director, Trumbull has nearly doubled its number of students taking AP classes in the past few years.

“In 2015, the total number of students taking AP courses was 502; now it’s 972,” he said. “Part of that is due to adding eight more classes, but some of it also is the efforts we have made to enhance our enrollment.”

Budd said his hope was that all students at the school could find an appropriate AP course to challenge themselves.

“With an AP course, the College Board approves the syllabus, the course material and how it’s taught,” Budd said. “College admissions departments know that there is comparability in the classes, and your grades really mean something.”

Cialfi said AP classes, inherently more challenging than standard high school classwork, indicate to colleges that students are willing to challenge themselves and that they have the ability to handle college-level academics.

“Taking these courses is the equivalent of a first-year college class,” he said. “That means a lot more than a GPA number.”

Trumbull High currently offers 27 different AP classes, in study areas ranging from art to world language. Math, science and social studies are also popular. Budd estimated there were fewer than five other schools in the state that offered that number of classes in such a wide area of studies.

Trumbull also is increasing the rigors of some of the AP classes, adding a multivariable calculus class for students who were seeking to complete three years of college-level calculus while in high school.

“That was unheard of 20 years ago,” Budd said.

Depending on the course, there can be prerequisites to participate in AP classes, but Cialfi said he encouraged all students to seek out a class in an area where they have an interest and a capacity to work hard.

“Start with one, and you’ll probably find yourself taking two or three,” he said.