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Chelsea Public School District Named a College Board Advanced Placement® District of the Year: A First for New England

District Recognized For Increasing Access And Performance, Particularly For Traditionally Underserved Minority Students

CHELSEA, Mass. — Chelsea Public School District in Massachusetts has been named a College Board Advanced Placement® Equity and Excellence District of the Year for being the nation’s leader, among small school districts, in expanding access to Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) courses while simultaneously improving AP Exam performance. Chelsea students, teachers, and district and school administrators, state public officials, and College Board leadership will celebrate these achievements this morning during an award ceremony at Chelsea High School.

“As we continue our efforts to expand access to rigorous college-level course work for all students, districts like Chelsea have created a model of success that can be replicated all across the country,” said College Board President David Coleman. “The College Board is proud to recognize the students, faculty and administrators of Chelsea Public School District for their innovation and commitment to setting high standards for student achievement. Congratulations on being the first school district in New England to receive this recognition.” 

In November 2012, Chelsea Public School District was one of a record 539 school districts across the U.S. and Canada that achieved placement on the Annual AP District Honor Roll. From this list, three AP Districts of the Year —one for each category of district population size: small, medium and large — were selected based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data. From 2009-10 to 2011-12, Chelsea Public School District:

  • Increased student participation in AP by 20 percent annually;
  • Increased the percentage of AP students earning a 3 or above on at least one AP Exam 6 percent annually, with 36 percent of its AP students scoring 3 or above in 2012; and
  • Increased the percentage of traditionally underserved minority AP students earning a 3 or above on at least one AP Exam by 16 percent annually — an increase of 21 students last year.

"Today's recognition by the College Board is a well-deserved salute to Chelsea Public Schools for expanding student access to, and success in, rigorous AP coursework that signals readiness for college-level work," said Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "We have adopted rigorous college and career ready standards in Massachusetts as part of our larger reforms to ensure that each and every student is ready for success in the world that awaits them after high school."

Increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program, indicating that the district is successfully preparing a larger array of its students for the rigor of AP and college studies.

“Our teachers and administrators are passionate about providing rigor and high standards as the foundation that prepares our students to be college and career ready. I applaud their commitment to the values of excellence and learning opportunities for all,” said Mary M. Bourque, superintendent of Chelsea Public School District. “Our school district will continue the work of inspiring more students to participate and excel in Advanced Placement classes.”

To ensure that all students who graduate high school are college and career ready, Chelsea has focused on creating a structure, culture and instructional model in which every student can succeed academically. Understanding that access to rigorous college-level course work is essential to building the critical thinking and communication skills necessary for success at the university level, Chelsea has worked to expand access to AP for all its students. The district has increased the number of AP courses offered to its students; funds AP Exam fees; supports the ongoing professional development of its teachers; and works to vertically align curricula and programs so that each year of learning builds upon the last.

“The Chelsea Public School District has achieved something truly remarkable. It has succeeded in opening the doors of its AP classrooms to many more underserved students, while also increasing the percentage of exams earning scores that qualify students for college credit,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president responsible for the Advanced Placement Program. “Chelsea has undergone an impressive transformation to become a national model for successfully expanding access to college-level rigor in high school.”

Chelsea Public School District is the small district — defined as no more than 8,000 students — selected to receive this year’s College Board Advanced Placement Equity and Excellence District of the Year Award. In addition to celebratory events at the district level, all three winning districts will be honored in Las Vegas during the 2013 AP Annual Conference in July.

About the Advanced Placement Program®

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both — while still in high school. Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments and see many sides of an issue — skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admission officers that students have sought the most rigorous curriculum available to them, and research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students. Each AP teacher’s syllabus is evaluated and approved by faculty from some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, and AP Exams are developed and scored by college faculty and experienced AP teachers. Most four-year colleges and universities in the United States grant credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of successful AP Exam scores — more than 3,600 institutions worldwide annually receive AP scores. In the last decade, participation in the AP Program has more than doubled and graduates succeeding on AP Exams have nearly doubled. In May 2012, 2.1 million students representing more than 18,000 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took 3.7 million AP Exams.

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For further information, visit

Media Contact:

Kate Levin