Manatee honored on short list of Florida school districts

The School Support Center, at 215 Manatee Ave. W.
The School Support Center, at 215 Manatee Ave. W.

Manatee County is one of two school districts in the state to earn a spot on the 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll.

The Advanced Placement Program is offered through College Board, a nonprofit organization that promotes higher education. AP classes allow high school students to take college-level courses, increasing their odds of graduating from college while often times saving them money.

Along with Lee County, the School District of Manatee County is among 371 other districts that increased access to AP courses and improved students’ scores on the AP exams.

It’s the second time Manatee earned a spot on the list, with the first appearance taking place in 2014.

“I would like to thank Shirley Hurley, the Advanced Studies Coordinator for the district, and especially our students, teachers and parents for all of their hard work and dedication in making this possible,” Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said in a prepared statement.

About 85 percent of selective colleges and universities reported AP involvement as an advantage during the admissions process, according to the program’s website.

While AP classes may improve the odds of success in college enrollment and graduation, they’re also meant to help with problem solving, studying and managing time — useful skills in all facets of life.

And, according to its website, the program could even soften the financial blow from textbooks and tuition. It said colleges often award credit for scores of 3 or higher on the AP exams.

Earning credit in high school can help students skip introductory classes and graduate early.

“All students who are willing and academically prepared to accept the challenge of a rigorous academic curriculum should be considered for admission to AP courses,” the program states.

But only half of underrepresented students participate in the program, despite being prepared for the tough courses.

To make the honor roll, districts were required to increase or maintain the percentage of students who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino or Hawaiian/other.

“The first step to getting more of these students to participate is to give them access,” a news release said. “The School District of Manatee County is committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.”