New data from the College Board, the service that administers advanced placement exams shows an increase in participation. Students who graduated in 2013 doubled the number of advances placement (AP) classes over the last 10 years, according to the 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation report that was released on Tuesday. The report states that 2013 graduates in the U.S. took 3.2 million advanced placements exams. Of the 607, 505 graduating, they had at least one AP score above average, which is also up from previous years.
The total number of examinees doubled from 514,163 in 2003 to 1,003, 340 in 2013, am increase of 489,267. Though low-income students taking the advanced placements tests have quadrupled in that same time frame, they are still low in comparison to the student body as a whole. Students from low-income homes went from 58, 489 tests to 275,864, with an increase of 217, 375 tests of 10 years.
In 2013, the percentage of U.S. graduating students to score a three or higher on the AP tests averages 20.1 percent. 17 states scored higher than the average. Maryland topped the list at 29.6 percent, Connecticut had 28.8 percent and Virginia had 38.3 percent. Rounding out the bottom of the list were Mississippi, Louisiana and North Dakota.
The highest possible score on the exam is five, but a three is considered a passing score. In 2013, 20 percent of students earned a three or better, as compared to the 12 percent in 2003. Students who score above average on the exams are more likely to have a higher GPA in college and have a higher rate of graduating college. They are also eligible for AP classes to study at a higher level and potentially earn college credit ahead of time.
The purpose of these classes and tests is for students to earn college credit while in high school. Advanced placement exams began in the 1950s as a way for students to stand out on their college applications and they are still growing strong as kids prepare for a competitive market. The tests are offered in 34 subjects, which range from biology, statistics and psychology to art history and studio art drawing.
There are a few areas that need focus going forward, however. One issue is that even though the number of low-income and minority students has quadrupled over the last decade, the number of tests taken and their scores are lower than the national average. Closing the gap in the future may include waiving test fees for children from low-income families.
Another issue is that opportunities are still being missed as kids who score high on advanced placement exams and qualify for AP classes do not always take the coordinating class. The classes are made up of students and educators with a strong commitment to excellence in learning and problem solving. The increase in participation of advanced placement exams and AP classes is encouraging and the College Board hopes to spread awareness so student take advantage of the classes and resources available to them and offering support services. Schools often have test preparation classes that students can take advantage of, as well. Advanced placement exams are just one piece of the puzzle that leads to success in higher education.
By Tracy Rose