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Number of Burbank students taking AP, honors courses on the rise

July 19, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Burbank Unified this week announced that more students than ever are taking Advanced Placement and honors classes, although grades have dipped slightly in tandem with the greater access.

In past years, AP and honors courses at Burbank and Burroughs high schools were limited to high-performing students or those in the district’s Gifted and Talented Education program, also known as GATE.

Burbank educators cited data at a school board meeting this week that showed in some cases, students who were ruled out from taking AP classes would later go on to take remedial classes in college because they had not been exposed to a rigorous curriculum in high school.

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In an effort to better prepare students for college, Burbank Unified has been opening up access to that more rigorous curriculum for the past several years.

“All of the data says that the more exposure they’re going to have to those programs, the better that they’re going to do in college and in life,” said Sharon Cuseo, director of instruction and accountability at Burbank Unified.

So while student grades in AP classes have slightly dipped over the past three years, participation in those classes have increased, exposing more students to more rigorous standards, Cuseo added.

For example, this year, 67 more students enrolled in a ninth-grade English honors class than they did in 2010-11, yet the percentage of those who earned a C grade or better dipped from 98% to 93%.

And in the AP U.S. History class this year, 150 more students enrolled than three years ago. At the same time, the pass rate dipped two points from 98% to 96%.

Even as pass rates have slightly decreased, Cuseo said the district’s goal is to offer as many AP and honors classes as they can, a plan embraced by school board members.

“I like the open access,” said school board member Ted Bunch. “There are a lot of students who don’t show what they can do until they’re put into a difficult class.”

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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