More than half a million public school students from the class of 2010 scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP® Exam during high school, nearly double the number of successful students from the class of 2001, and exceeding the total number of students from the class of 2001 who took AP Exams (see Figure 1). As research consistently shows that students who score a 3 or higher on AP Exams typically experience stronger college outcomes than otherwise comparable non-AP peers, the data in this year’s report show how educators are enhancing the college readiness of our nation’s students by preparing them to take AP classes and succeed on AP Exams.
“Over the last decade we’ve seen a remarkable increase in the number of high school graduates participating and succeeding in AP,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “The 7th Annual AP Report to the Nation highlights the successes educators have achieved in helping students from a wide variety of backgrounds gain access to, and be successful in, college-level AP course work. AP can level the playing field for underserved students, give them the confidence needed to succeed in college, and raise standards and performance in key subjects like science and math. We are excited that more parents, students, educators and policymakers are recognizing these possibilities.”
The 7th Annual AP Report to the Nation Highlights:
•Nearly 17 percent of public high school students from the class of 2010 completed high school with at least one successful AP experience.
•Though still underrepresented in AP classrooms, more minority students experienced success in AP than ever before.
•More low-income students participated and succeeded in AP than in previous years.
•More students are succeeding on AP science and math exams today than took these exams 10 years ago.
•The top 10 states with the greatest proportion of their seniors from the class of 2010 having at least one successful AP experience were: Maryland (26.4 percent), New York (24.6 percent), Virginia (23.7 percent), Connecticut (23.2 percent), Massachusetts (23.1 percent), California (22.3 percent), Florida (22.3 percent), Vermont (21.8 percent), Colorado (21.4 percent) and Utah (19.2 percent). (See Figure 2 in the AP’s Overall Reach section of the report.)
•The states with the greatest five-year increases in the percentage of seniors scoring 3 or higher on an AP Exam were: Vermont, Florida, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Colorado, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington. (See Figure 3.)
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick, whose state led the nation for the third straight year with the highest percentage of students succeeding in AP, said, “Maryland puts a great deal of emphasis on having the best prepared high school graduates, and the Advanced Placement Program is a key part of this effort. AP provides students with a high standard, which gives them a foundation for success in college and in their careers.”
AP Offers Opportunities for Traditionally Underserved Students to Succeed
Over the past 10 years, the number of traditionally underserved minority students graduating with a successful AP experience has more than doubled — Black/African American graduates with scores of 3 or higher increased from 7,764 in 2001 to 19,675 in 2010; Hispanic/Latino graduates with scores of 3 or higher increased from 33,479 in 2001 to 74,479 in 2010; and American Indian/Alaska Native graduates with scores of 3 or higher increased from 988 in 2001 to 2,195 in 2010. In addition, the number of low-income graduates with scores of 3 or higher has increased from 53,662 in 2006 to 84,135 in 2010 (see figures 7, 8 and 9 in the Opportunities for Underserved Students section of the report). Despite increases, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American and American Indian/Alaska Native students remain underrepresented both in AP classrooms and within that group of students experiencing success in AP.
Equity in AP will not be achieved until the diversity of our nation’s students is proportionally represented in AP classrooms as well as within the group of students succeeding on AP Exams. This year’s report shows how much progress each state is making toward that goal. Fourteen states have successfully eliminated the equity and excellence gap for Hispanic/Latino students. Although 16 states have closed the gap for American Indian/Alaska Native students and two states have closed the gap for Black/African American students, no state with substantial student populations in these demographics has eliminated these gaps. (See figures 10a, 10b and 10c in the Opportunities for Underserved Students section of the report.)
“Students and educators routinely attest that exposure to AP’s high standards helps prepare students for success in college. However, the likelihood of college success is significantly higher for AP students who score 3 or better,” said Trevor Packer, vice president of the Advanced Placement Program® for the College Board. “Accordingly, simply expanding AP course enrollments is not enough — this year’s report provides additional data points on exam performance that can help each state take a closer look at how well they are preparing all of their students, during the middle school and high school years, for the rigors of college-level course work.
The College Board recently completed an analysis of every U.S. school district’s AP trends. Typically, as schools expand access to AP, the raw number of students who score 3 or higher increases, but so does the raw number of students who score 1 and 2. As a result, for some districts the percentage of 3s, 4s, and 5s may slightly decrease. On March 9, the College Board will announce an honor roll of districts that have succeeded in increasing the raw number of students scoring 3 or higher while simultaneously decreasing the number and percentage of students scoring 1s and 2s. This honor roll is intended to serve as a repository of best practices from which other districts can learn.
“States with high percentages of exams receiving scores of 3 or higher, but who are serving a lower percentage of their high school population, should implement policies for making AP teachers available to a greater proportion of the high school population. On the other hand, states with high percentages of exams receiving scores of 1 or 2 should focus on the sort of middle school and early high school strategies that prepare a greater diversity of students for eventual enrollment and success in AP classes,” said Packer.
AP Helps Increase American Student Achievement in Science and Math
The 7th Annual AP Report to the Nation shows that the number of students from the class of 2010 who succeeded on AP science and math exams exceeds the number of students who merely took these exams nearly 10 years ago. While 134,957 students in the class of 2001 graduated after taking an AP science exam, 143,651 students in the class of 2010 scored 3 or higher on an AP science exam. Similarly, 166,905 students in the class of 2001 graduated after taking an AP math exam, compared with 179,193 students in the class of 2010 who scored 3 or higher on an AP math exam during high school. (See Figure 11.)
“Research shows that students who took AP math or science exams were more likely than non-AP students to earn degrees in particular physical science, engineering and life science disciplines — the fields leading to the cutting-edge careers that can help preserve America’s competitiveness,” Packer said. “This correlation is particularly strong among female, African American and Hispanic students. Science and math educators deserve credit for implementing AP courses in these subjects as a way of expanding the pipeline of students prepared for the rigors of science, technology, engineering and math course work in college.”
The 7th Annual AP Report to the Nation national report is available at http://apreport.collegeboard.org.
The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Through more than 30 college-level courses, each culminating in a rigorous exam, AP provides willing and academically prepared students with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both. Taking AP courses also demonstrates to college admission officers that students have sought the most rigorous curriculum available to them. Each AP teacher’s syllabus is evaluated and approved by college faculty from some of the nation’s leading institutions, and AP Exams are developed and scored by college faculty and experienced AP teachers. AP is accepted by more than 3,800 colleges and universities worldwide for college credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of successful AP Exam scores. This includes over 90 percent of four-year institutions in the United States. In May 2010, 1.8 million students representing more than 17,000 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took 3.2 million AP Exams.
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of more than 5,900 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.