College Board Issues Report on Status of Advanced Placement in the United States

The College Board has recently released the 7th Annual AP Report to the Nation, which details states’ efforts over the last year to increase Advanced Placement (AP) coursetaking, particularly among traditionally underserved student populations.

Report highlights include:

  • About 850,000 high school seniors successfully completed at least one AP course before graduating in 2010. Out of that number, about 508,000, or 16.9% of the class of 2010, scored a 3 on at least one AP exam at any point in high school.
  • Minority and low-income students who participate in AP, and particularly those who score a 3 or higher on the exam, are much more likely to earn a college degree within five years of beginning college than comparable minority and low-income students.
  • More female African-American students took at least one AP exam than their male counterparts (63% versus 37%). Similarly, more female Latinos took at least one AP exam than their male peers (59% versus 41%).
  • 3.9 percent of the 73,270 African-American students who completed an AP course in 2010 earned a passing grade, compared with 14.6 percent of nearly 137,000 Latino students.

The report also suggests that the likelihood of postsecondary success is “significantly stronger for AP students who score a 3 or higher.” And while the data from the new 2010 report shows that AP coursetaking is increasing, passing the exams (with a score of 3 or higher) is not. In the class of 2010, 56.1% of the exams taken received a passing grade, compared with 56.5% in 2009 and 60.8% in 2001. 

While preparing for an AP exam helps students also prepare for success in college, these data reveal that educators should also consider focusing on creating opportunities for students to not only take AP exams, but have access to the kind of quality education that prepares them to succeed in the course and beyond. Ideally, educators also need to examine how well students - especially traditionally underserved students - are being prepared for the rigor of college-level work during middle and early high school grades before undertaking AP coursework.


Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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