Advanced Placement class participation has grown considerably as nearly double the amount of public high school students enroll in the college-level courses in the past 10 years. While more students than ever are taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, many are still failing the tests, according to the College Board, which administers the AP program.
University-bound students take the more difficult AP classes in high school to boost their grade-point averages and give them an edge over non-AP students in competing for college openings. The classes are rigorous and graded in a uniform way that allows colleges to compare results fairly.
The AP exams are offered each May. Those students that pass a test may receive college credit for that class, depending on the university they attend. Receiving credits for AP exams enables to earn college degrees faster and save significant amounts of money.
Last year, 33.2 percent of public high school 2013 graduates took an AP Exam, compared to 18.9 percent of graduates 10 years before, according to 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation, released today by the College Board. Twenty percent of 2013 graduates passed an AP Exam, compared to 12.2 percent of graduates in 2003. Overall, there were more than 1 million AP scores of 3 or higher (the score levels typically accepted by colleges for admission consideration and course credit) and more than 800,000 with non-passing scores in 2013.
Much of the expansion stems from efforts at district, state and federal levels to expand the number of low-income and minority students taking AP exams. While overall participation in Advanced Placement was nearly double, the number of low-income graduates who took an AP exam quadrupled in the past 10 years.
The state of Maryland had the most public high school students passing AP exams last year with a nearly 30 percent pass rate. Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts, Florida, California, New York, Utah, Colorado and New Jersey also made the top 10.
Started in the 1950s, AP exams are now offered in 34 different subjects. The most popular AP exams ranked by numbers who take them are: English Language and Composition, U.S. History, English Literature and Composition, Calculus AB, U.S. Government and Politics, Psychology, World History, Biology, Statistics and Chemistry.
The College Board’s 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation only addressed AP enrollment by public high school students. It did not include information on private school or home-school students’ results.
A non-profit association whose membership represents more than 6,000 leading educational institutions, the College Board is best known for administering the SAT exams and the AP program. In its report, the organization emphasized that while participation in the Advanced Placement program is nearly double where it was 10 years ago, there is still considerable room for improvement. The College Board report noted that approximately 40 percent of public U.S. high schools do not offer AP classes. They estimate, based on standardized tests, that approximately 300,000 students who have the potential to succeed in AP courses graduate without taking any.
By Dyanne Weiss