(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – More high school students than ever before are taking and passing Advanced Placement exams according to a recently released report.
The first-ever Advanced Placement Report to the Nation was released by the College Board, the non-profit organization that administers the AP program, just as the program approaches its 50th anniversary. There was an increase in the percentage of high school students that passed at least one college-level AP course in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Passing an AP exam means receiving a grade of three or higher on the five point grading scale.
“When Students are challenged in high school, they gain the confidence to go to college and succeed there,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton.
Nationally, 13 percent of students in the class of 2004 received a grade of three or higher on at least one AP exam. Four years ago, just 10 percent did the same.
AP exams are currently available in 34 subjects. Doing well on these exams can allow students to receive college credit and skip introductory courses.
“AP enables students to receive a taste of college while still in an environment that is more intimate and nurturing than the large lecture halls where introductory college courses are frequently taught,” said Trevor Packer, executive director of the AP Program.
In 2004, 1.1 million students took 2 million AP exams, double the number of just 10 years ago. Comparatively, 1.4 million seniors took the SAT last year.
Meghan Lally, a recent graduate from the George Washington University, was able to graduate a semester early partially because of credit she received from taking AP classes in high school.
“AP courses are helpful to prepare for more challenging expectations but they can be very difficult to juggle with other commitments and priorities,” Lally said.
Though much of the report’s findings were promising, it did find continuing gaps in AP participation amongst minorities. Two out of three students who take an AP test are white. An average AP exam score for white students is a 3 while it is between a 2.5 and a 2.8 for Hispanic students and a 2 for black students.
“Educators and caregivers must work to ensure all children have the opportunity to achieve,” said Dr. Joe A. Hairston, superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools. “AP is an important tool to help students prepare for and succeed in higher education.”