SSFUSD & ESC Weekly Q&A Week #2

South San Francisco, CA   June 2, 2014SSFUSD logo

Everything South City and the South San Francisco Unified School District have made arrangements for a weekly question and answer forum in which community questions will be submitted to Superintendent Hogan on a Monday with answers being provided the following Monday.  This is the second in our series.

If you have a question you would like answered please submit it to

  1. Why does the school year start earlier and let out earlier every year? Mid August is especially early to be starting school. Why doesn’t it start after Labor Day?

At the secondary level, the total number of days for a school year is 180 student days and that has traditionally been divided into two semesters of 90 days each.  A few years ago, the district committed to finishing the first semester of school at the secondary level by winter break.  Previously, it had ended about three weeks after we returned from the break.  We wanted to honor the time students have with their families over the break by not filling it with projects to complete and studying for finals.  We now start school in the middle of August and have a first semester of 86 student days that ends at winter break.  The second semester starts after winter break and is 94 days long.  The extra time allows for spring testing and the many student activities that come in the spring that have an impact on instructional time.  The school calendar is negotiated with the San Francisco Classroom Teachers’ Association and we negotiated two to three years at a time.  For example, the calendars have been set for 2014 – 2015 and 2015 – 2016.


        2. AP studies question in 3 parts:

* What percentage of our students taking the AP test actually pass? Please supply % of students taking AP test, and % of those who pass the AP test for the past 5 years)

Every year during the summer, each high school receives an analysis of their AP scores from the College Board.  The analysis contains individual student scores as well as a breakdown by percentage.  We can compile that information for the past five years and provide a summary at a later date once the scores are in for 2013 – 2014.  The district has identified in the LCAP the goal of increasing not only its offerings in Advanced Placement classes, but also its enrollment in existing AP classes and will be working on that plan in the coming year.  Students who take AP courses not only benefit from the GPA boost, but they can also receive college credit by earning a 3, 4, or 5 on the exam.


* Is there a corresponding correlation between passing the test and the class grades of the students?

All Advanced Placement teachers participate in training and must submit their course syllabus to the College Board for approval through the Course Audit process. There are always ongoing discussions among AP teachers of the same subject about the relationship between AP test scores and class grades.  Although there is usually a correlation between grade and passing rates, sometimes a student who earns an A in the course does not pass the exam but that is rare.  There are also students who do not do well in the course but are able to “ace” the test and earn a passing score.  Again, that’s relatively rare.

*Is there a record kept of the teachers that recommend students for AP? If so, how can the public access this information?

Many schools have moved to “open enrollment” for advanced placement courses to increase the diversity of students taking the courses.  Each of our high schools can provide information on their screening process.  If there is a screening process for an AP course it must be clearly defines for students, but that information is not required to be kept by the school.  It is shared with the individual student and is not a part of the public record.

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