Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) has been named a College Board Advanced Placement® District of the Year for being the national leader among small-sized school districts, a recognition not easily obtained. Only 7 California districts have earned this honor in the past decade.

Announced earlier this year, the district was one of 250 school districts across the U.S. and Canada that achieved placement on the annual AP District Honor Roll, a significant achievement all by itself.

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.

Over all other small districts (less than 8,000 students) in the U.S. and Canada, the Galt district was chosen for the award.

GJUHSD earned the recognition for expanding access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses while simultaneously improving AP Exam performance over a three-year period.

The College Board had planned a surprise ceremony to announce the award at the GJUHSD offices in March; however, the coronavirus pandemic prevented that from happening. The celebration normally would have involved students, teachers, and district and school administrators, as well as College Board leadership.

GJUHSD Superintendent William Spalding was excited about this award.

“We are so very honored and excited about this distinct honor,” Spalding said. “It comes after years of hard work, dedication and a single-minded pursuit of vastly expanding college-going opportunities for students, and continuously improving teaching and learning of advanced subjects.”

Spalding credited the district for offering a well-rounded education.

“Galt has a rich and proud heritage in career and technical education, and agricultural education. It’s what we’re known for,” Spalding said. “This distinction demonstrates that we are a ‘both/and’ district, not an ‘either/or’ district. We offer rich and expansive preparation for careers and college; we can do both, and well. We are FFA and Ivy League.”

The Ag programs at both high schools have had dozens of students receive full ride scholarships to various colleges across the nation and many welding students have earned placement in prestigious programs and/or straight into their career path.

This year, a Liberty Ranch High School student received acceptance to Harvard University, and many students have been accepted to UCLA and other high placing universities, a regular occurrence for the district.

Not only did the district see an increase in the number of students taking AP classes (11%), but it also saw more students taking and passing the AP exams (9%), arguably some of the toughest tests to be administered at a high school level.

Those increased numbers also represent an 11% increase in participation of the traditionally underrepresented minority students. Currently 59% of Galt’s AP students are of minority ethnicity and 48% qualify for free or reduced lunch.

“It also goes to show that you can both expand your AP offerings and the variety of students who take the courses, and still increase your levels of achievement. We are immensely proud,” Spalding said.

“This award shows that Galt High School (district) is challenging many students to achieve at the highest levels,” said Trevor Packer, head of the College Board AP Program. “Galt is ensuring that a more diverse population of students is earning college credit in a wide variety of AP subjects. Congratulations to all the educators and students whose dedication and hard work garnered this well-deserved recognition.”

Participating in AP coursework can lead to college savings for families. The typical student who scores a 3 or higher on two AP Exams can save, on average, $1,779 at a public four-year college and over $6,000 at a private institution.

In 2019, more than 4,000 colleges and universities worldwide received AP scores for college credit, placement, or consideration in the admissions process. Many colleges and universities in the U.S. offer credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores.

To learn more about AP, visit exploreap.org.