More High School Students Took Advanced Placement Classes, But Equity Gaps Remain

More High School Students Took Advanced Placement Classes, But Equity Gaps Remain


      On the 50th anniversary of the Advanced Placement Program (AP), the College Board has released the second annual “Advanced Placement Report to the Nation,” showing that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have achieved an increase in the percentage of high school students earning a grade of 3 or higher in college-level AP courses since 2000.

      “We must encourage our kids to take more challenging courses, and the Advanced Placement program has been proven to make a difference in student performance,” said education secretary Margaret Spellings. “Under the President’s AP Incentive program, we will increase the number of students taking AP math and science exams from 380,000 today to 1.5 million by 2012.”

      In the nation’s public schools, 14.1 percent of students in the class of 2005 earned an exam grade of 3 or higher — the grade predictive of college success — on one or more AP Exams while in high school. This is up from 13.2 percent for the class of 2004 and 10.2 percent for the class of 2000. Although 35 states and the District of Columbia have lower results than the nationwide average of 14.1 percent, every single state and the District of Columbia saw a greater proportion of its class of 2005 score a 3 or higher than occurred within its class of 2000.

      These achievements are noteworthy because, over the last five years, the U.S. public high school population has increased by more than 100,000 students. Other highlights:

  • New York leads the nation: Nearly 23 percent of students in New York’s class of 2005 earned an AP Exam grade of 3 or higher while in high school;
  • Maryland and Utah joined New York in seeing more than 20 percent of their students achieve such AP results;
  • Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida have seen the greatest amount of positive change since 2000 in the proportion of students who succeed on an AP Exam in high school; and 
  • Florida, Maryland, and the District of Columbia have each achieved the significant milestone of seeing Latino student representation in AP courses outpace Latino student representation in non-AP courses. California and Texas, states with large Latino populations, are within reach of this goal.

   “Educators and leaders at the federal, state, district and school levels deserve tremendous credit for enabling a wider segment of our nation’s youth than ever before to achieve success on an AP Exam,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “Participation in AP has remarkable benefits for students; most notably, AP math and science courses are enabling American students to develop a level of math and science expertise that exceeds that of students from all other nations; the AP world language courses are developing our students’ capacity to engage with Asian and European cultures; while AP English and social science courses develop the skills necessary for students to write effectively, think critically, and engage with great minds from the world’s cultures.”

   To read the full report online, visit

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