Pampa ISD strengthens AP program

Pampa ISD is removing barriers for students who want to take Advanced Placement courses (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

For the first time in Pampa Independent School District history, the district earned Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll honors from the College Board. Pampa ISD is one of 26 school districts in Texas to receive this honor this year. The district is also one of 447 districts in the United States and Canada to earn placement on the 8th annual AP District Honor Roll.

“All the kids at Pampa High School can be successful in AP if we provide them with enough support and so that’s kind of our ‘go to’ is how are we going to help our kids,” said Hugh Piatt, the principal at Pampa H.S. “We want the kids to be successful now that they’re in this upper level program.”

“This is huge for Pampa,” said Tanya Larkin, the Pampa ISD superintendent. “We’ve had a long tradition of success and we wanted to open up the college opportunity to more and more students. Our demographics has changed and we want to continue that."

Larkin tells ABC 7 News about 46 to 47 percent of the student body at Pampa High School is Hispanic. The number of students participating in AP has increased considerably since 2015 when Larkin took over as superintendent. During the 2016-2017 school year 176 students in AP took 280 exams, which the district paid for. Administrators tell ABC 7 News Pampa ISD is removing barriers that keep students out of AP classes.

“One of the barriers we remove is we pay for the exams,” said Larkin. “The cost of the exam is $96 to $98 per student per test. It doesn’t matter the income of the family, the ethnics or background. If they are a first-time college goer we want them to have that access.”

Piatt tells ABC 7 News teachers and staff at Pampa High School have pitched in to help provide an opportunity for students to experience the rigors of a college course.

“We’ve got a statistics class and were working on getting more subjects in AP,” said Piatt. “We have AP Spanish that’s doing exceptionally well.

“Our school board has put policies in place and our high school staff has been very open and honest with what needs to happen,” said Larkin. “We want to allow access for all of those students.”

Pampa ISD is one of the school district in the Texas Panhandle to earn the honor this year. Students who take AP and pass with high grade can get immediate college credit that transfers all over the country.

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