Advanced Placement Continues to Grow at DMPS; Four New AP Courses to be Offered at Central Academy

Opportunities continue to expand for high school students to have greater access to college-level Advanced Placement courses throughout Des Moines, as the school district will be offering new courses at Central Academy while continuing other AP courses available at all five comprehensive high schools. These changes result from significant enrollment increases the school district has seen in recent years in Advanced Placement courses as both students and teachers have stepped up to meet the challenge of this college-level curriculum.

DMPS is pleased to announce, for the first time ever, four new AP courses to be offered to Des Moines students through Central Academy starting with the 2014-15 school year: AP Art History, AP Computer Science, AP Microeconomics, and AP Spanish Literature. These new AP offerings are unique, specialized courses that will be available only at Central Academy in order to provide access to all DMPS students. (Previously, AP Art History and AP Microeconomics were available only to students at Roosevelt High School.)

In order to facilitate the growth of our Advanced Placement program at Central Academy, DMPS will reduce some duplication of AP courses. Starting in 2014-15, AP Environmental Science, AP Statistics, and AP US Government will no longer be offered at Central Academy but will continue to be offered at all five comprehensive high schools.

“Des Moines Public Schools is a leader in Iowa and the nation when it comes to offering students access to high-level academic programs, such as Advanced Placement, and our students are to be commended for taking on these world-class educational opportunities,” said Superintendent Tom Ahart. “The school district’s effort to make AP courses available to more and more students throughout Des Moines is showing that our students and teachers are stepping up to the challenge. We are providing thousands of students access to classes that will help prepare them for college and beyond.”

Participation in Advanced Placement courses, high level classes accredited by the College Board, has seen a tremendous increase in recent years as more classes are offered at East, Hoover, Lincoln, North and Roosevelt high schools in addition to the nationally-recognized Central Academy. The expansion of AP courses in Des Moines aligns with the College Board’s mission to provide equitable access by giving all willing and academically prepared students the opportunity to participate in AP. DMPS has worked to eliminate barriers that restrict access to AP for students who have been traditionally underserved; do more to reflect the diversity of our student population; and provide all students with access to academically challenging coursework before they enroll in AP classes.

DMPS started to expand accessibility to AP courses at all five Des Moines high schools starting in the 2011-12 school year. As a result, some schools have seen up to a  nine hundred percent increase in AP enrollment today compared to four years ago. The following chart compares the number of students enrolled in AP courses today to the year prior to the expansion of AP offerings at all five high schools:


2010-11 AP Enrollment

2013-14 AP Enrollment


East High School




Hoover High School




Lincoln High School




North High School




Roosevelt High School








In addition to significant enrollment increases in AP courses, the number of AP exams has nearly doubled in the past two years. Depending on the result, exams scores transfer to credit at most colleges and universities. The number of AP exams administered at DMPS over the past three years is as follows:


AP Exams Taken

Difference from 2010-11









As a result of this effort, for the first time ever all five Des Moines high schools are listed on the Iowa AP Index – released by the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education at the University of Iowa – as among the top 50 AP schools in the state. Roosevelt is ranked 7th among all Iowa high schools, Hoover 26th, North 28th, Lincoln 30th and East 36th. In addition, Central Academy received special recognition for having the highest score in Iowa on the AP Index.

Advanced Placement is a program created by the College Board to offer college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students. Colleges and universities often grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the course examinations. The AP curriculum is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators. For a high school course to have the AP designation, teachers must successfully complete additional training and the course must be audited by the College Board to confirm that it meets the high standards of the AP curriculum.