Southern Arizona school sees improvements in student achievement

Posted at 3:37 PM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 21:40:23-04

A small, southern Arizona High School is celebrating an amazing turnaround as they near the end of the school year.

Rio Rico High School, located 20 minutes north of the Mexican border, used to struggle with graduation rates and test scores. Administrators desperately looked for ways to boost student achievement.

The student population is so poor; everyone gets a free school lunch. Then, the principal had the vision to make Advanced Placement exams free as well.

The AP exams are nationally-run exams, given at the end of year-long classes where students complete college-level coursework. Universities typically give free college credit to anyone who passes the tests.

Rio Rico administrators let any student take the AP classes and tests. Last year they paid for more than 300 students. Most passed, and the school district even received a national award acknowledging the accomplishment. Teachers and students learned that when more is expected of them, they rise to meet those expectations.

"It's definitely a lot of we want to succeed, not only for ourselves but for our community because are proud to be part of Rio Rico," senior Delaney Rendon said.

Rio Rico is also graduating their largest senior class Thursday night.