Governor McKee, State Leaders Join College Board in Recognizing Rhode Island High Schools’ Advanced Placement Achievements

Published on Wednesday, May 17, 2023

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Dan McKee, Secretary of State Gregg Amore, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education Senator Sandra Cano, Chair of the House Education Committee Representative Joseph McNamara, and Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green joined College Board at the Rhode Island State House today to recognize six high schools for their ongoing commitment to increasing Advanced Placement (AP) access, participation, and success.  

"Participation in Advanced Placement Exams is not only a testament to a student's academic rigor but also a crucial step towards unlocking their full potential and preparing them for the challenges of higher education,” said Governor Dan McKee. “By taking AP Exams in high school, students can potentially save thousands of dollars on college tuition and accelerate their path towards a degree. Thank you to all Rhode Island high schools who have worked to increase opportunities for students and empower them to achieve excellence.”

“Advanced Placement courses offer students the opportunity to challenge themselves in subjects they are passionate about, setting them up for success in college and beyond,” said Secretary of State Gregg Amore. “As a former AP teacher, I know that teachers and administrators have an important role to play in encouraging students to take on the challenge of an AP course, and I applaud these schools for their efforts to increase access to and participation in these courses.”  

The following schools were recognized:  

  • Central Falls High School 
  • Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School 
  • East Providence High School 
  • North Providence High School  
  • Ponaganset High School 
  • William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School 

These high schools have greatly contributed to Rhode Island’s incredible AP growth. According to College Board, approximately 34% of Rhode Island’s class of 2022 took an AP Exam in high school, placing Rhode Island as third in the nation for ten-year growth. Rhode Island’s class of 2021 led the nation in ten-year growth, with a staggering 16.1 percentage point increase. 

“AP courses are vital to the future success of our students and it is imperative that we ensure that the benefits of AP courses remain available to all Rhode Island students,” said Sen. Sandra Cano, Chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket). “Our state’s schools have been making remarkable strides in utilizing AP courses and I congratulate all of the students and teachers who worked so hard to achieve this noteworthy success.” 

“For almost 70 years, advanced placement has offered students an alternative in academic freedom and the opportunity not only to succeed academically, but to expand their educational foundations by challenging the very way they think,” said Rep. Joseph McNamara, Chairman of the House Education Committee (D-Dist. 19, Warwick). “As a retired educator, I’ve seen the way AP classes can unleash the energy and potential of students who need a challenge to do better. And anything that can light a fire under students is a valuable tool for teachers and administrators." 

Additionally, Rhode Island had among the largest gains in the percentage of Black/African American graduates taking an AP Exam during high school. From 2012 to 2022, Black/African American graduates taking an AP Exam during high school grew 11.2 percentage points in Rhode Island compared to 2.8 percentage points in the nation. 

"Advanced Placement programs provide an excellent opportunity for Rhode Island’s high school students to challenge themselves and gain college-level knowledge and skills,” said Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Patti DiCenso. “On behalf of the Council, I share my gratitude with the school communities honored today for providing a more robust path for students to achieve their academic and career goals.” 

"We are thrilled to celebrate the achievements of these Rhode Island schools together with College Board. Advanced Placement courses are not just a means to earn college credit, but an opportunity for students to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, expand their knowledge, and develop critical thinking skills,” said Commissioner Infante-Green. “However, this opportunity should not be limited to a select few. That is why ensuring equity in AP courses is a priority in Rhode Island, so all students, regardless of zip code, too can benefit from rigorous and rewarding academic experiences. In doing so, we can create a more just and equitable society where talent and hard work, rather than circumstance, determine success.” 

The expansion of AP in Rhode Island comes as a direct result of statewide policies to ensure students leave high school prepared for the next phase of their educational journey, both professionally and academically. The amended Rhode Island Secondary Regulations and inclusion of AP information in school accountability measures released by RIDE demonstrate a system of support that assures AP and career and technical education (CTE) are the gold standard for all students. This system of support is made possible in part to legislative support that funds high-quality professional development and training for teachers and AP test waivers for students. 

“The AP Program congratulates the educators, students, and policymakers in Rhode Island for considerable gains in expanding access to advanced coursework,” said Trevor Packer, College Board’s Senior Vice President of AP and Instruction. “Participating in AP courses can have a powerful impact on students’ college plans and career ambitions. Decades of research have shown that students who receive Advanced Placement opportunities are more likely to pursue higher education and enter college with the preparation and confidence to thrive.”

Additionally, Rhode Island leads the way as an early Two Codes adopter, which is a College Board initiative that offers high school students access to college-level coursework in computer science and American government. 

“As a Two Code school, Ponaganset High School students enrolled in AP Computer Science and AP U.S. Government and Politics master the disciplines of technology and democracy: the codes of the economy and innovation, and the code of our public life,” said Foster-Glocester Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Renee Palazzo. “The Ponaganset school community extends its deep gratitude to RIDE and College Board for today’s recognition, and to our students and educators for their unwavering commitment to excellence every day.” 

At Tuesday’s event, students from Central Falls High School hosted a computer science showcase, led by former Computer Science Teacher of the Year and 2023 STEAM Teacher of the Year Alison Murray. Hospitality Careers students from William M. Davies Career & Technical High School catered the event. 

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