AP tests for middle schoolers? At Fullerton School District, 70 take exam for the first time

Seventy middle school students from the Fullerton School District took the Advanced Placement Computer Science Exam last year, with four of them receiving high enough scores to earn college credit before they even enrolled in high school.

This spring, another 48 students will be taking AP Computer Science Exams, which typically are given to high school students. Fullerton School District is the first in Orange County, and one of the first in the nation, to administer AP exams to middle school students.

students in computer labAP exams are usually provided to students starting in the 10th grade. Fullerton, a K-8 district, recently adopted a Computer Science Pathway that teaches coding languages, personal creativity and design processes to solve real world problems. The pathway is aligned with the AP Computer Science curriculum, allowing students in the program to take the AP exam.

In the first year, the district’s AP exam pass rate for its middle school students was 6 percent, compared to high school students who pass the AP Computer Science exam at a rate of 10-15 percent. District officials said they expect Fullerton’s passing rate to gradually improve as the district refines the curriculum. Still, students who took the test and didn’t pass are better prepared for the next time they take the exam in high school officials said.

This year, the district also offered Pre-AP English classes at Parks Junior High School and Ladera Vista Junior High School of the Arts. Students taking this course can take the AP English Exam next spring.

“The course offerings and pathways offered at our schools are just one example of personalized learning being implemented throughout Fullerton School District,” Fullerton School District Superintendent Robert Pletka said in a news release. “We are committed to preparing our students to be successful and fostering students’ personalized interests and passions.”