Although Hispanic students have continued to close the “equity and excellence gap” in 15 states in the Advanced Placement courses, gaps persist in California and Texas, two of the biggest states with a high percentage of Hispanics in their population, the College Board reveals in its annual AP Report to the Nation.
While more minority students are entering AP classrooms, significant gaps remain, the College Board reports. In California, for instance, where Hispanics make up 37 percent of the student population, 30.7 percent of the Hispanic students scored three or higher in the tests. In Texas, the margin was lower with 32.6 percent of Hispanic students scoring three or higher. In that state, Hispanics are 36.5 percent of the student population in public schools.
“More students from varied backgrounds are accomplishing their AP goals, but we can’t afford to believe equity has been achieved until demographics of successful AP participation and performance are identical to the demographics of the overall student population,” says College Board President Gaston Caperton.
There was little discrepancy between AP exam enrollment rates and overall enrollment rates for Hispanic and White students, while Asian American students represented a disproportionately higher number of AP exam enrollees.
While several states, including Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Oklahoma, have been able to close the equity gap for Hispanic students, no state with large numbers of African-American or American Indian students has yet to close the gap, the report says.
Massachusetts saw a 41 percent increase in students taking the AP tests, with more than 900 Hispanic students who took at least one AP exam in high school, which is more than double the number five years ago.
State-based initiatives are key in closing the success gap between underrepresented students and their White counterparts, the report highlights. Florida’s Partnership for Minority and Underrepresented Student Achievement program has produced outstanding results. Hispanic students comprise 21.8 percent of the population in Florida, of which 27.6 percent have scored 3 or higher in the tests.
Mayra Irizarry, an AP calculus teacher at Cypress Bay High School in Florida, notes, “We are working really hard on the pre-AP strategies to get our middle school students prepared so that when they get to high school they are prepared and motivated to take the exam.”
Illinois has enacted the College and Career Success for All Students Program, which offers competitive grants to school districts emphasizing training for AP teachers, counselors and principals.
Nationally, a record 15.2 percent of public school students in the class of 2007 received a passing grade of three or higher on a college-level AP test, up from 11.7 percent for the class of 2002.
New York public schools had the highest rate of 2007 graduates who passed an AP test, 23.4 percent. Other states included in the top 10 are: Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, California, Utah and Colorado.
Earning a three or higher out of a possible five on an AP exam is one of the best predictors of college performance, with AP students earning better grades in college and graduating from college at higher rates than their peers in controlled groups, according to recent reports from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the National Center for Educational Accountability and the University of Texas at Austin.
“Students that have taken an AP course and scored three or better on AP exams are graduating much more quickly and at higher rates than their peers,” says Packer.
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