Enrollment in Honors/AP Shows Steady Gains

November 24, 2004
A growing number of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) high school students are continuing to enroll in Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, with 65 percent of students last year enrolled in at least one Honors or AP course.

Enrollment in Honors and AP courses increased for all MCPS students, and for all groups of students. In addition, all but one of the school system's 24 regular high schools increased the overall percentage of students enrolled in at least one Honors or AP course.

Gains Over Four Years

The rate of enrollment in Honors and AP courses has continued to increase over the last four years, from 57 percent in 2000-01 to 65 percent last year (27,600 students). This enrollment growth has taken place during a period in which high school enrollment has grown from 38,000 to more than 42,000 students last year.

The continuing trend for students to take more challenging courses is a reflection of the school system's ongoing effort to provide an effective and rigorous instructional program and to increase enrollment in and performance of all students in gifted, Honors, AP and other advanced programs.

Schools Communicate High Expectations

Various initiatives, both systemwide and at the individual school level, have included creating a positive school climate that communicates high expectations for all students, motivating students to participate in challenging course work, and removing barriers to the recruitment and selection of students for enrollment in Honors and AP courses.

The new data come from a report on Honors and AP course enrollment during the 2003-04 school year recently released by the Department of Reporting and Regulatory Accountability.

This year's report, unlike previous years, includes students who received more than 15 hours of special education services. It also establishes 2000-01 as the baseline year for assessing progress made in Honors/AP course enrollment.

Gains for All Groups

Compared with the previous year, 2003-04 enrollment in at least one Honors or AP course increased for all students and groups. This percentage for economically disadvantaged, white and Hispanic students increased by 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively. The percentage of Asian American and limited English proficiency (LEP) students enrolled in at least one Honors or AP course increased by 1.0 and 1.6 percentage points, respectively. The increase for both African American and special education students was less than 1 percent.

The numbers are even more impressive when compared with the baseline year of 2000-01. During 2003-04, all students showed an increase of nearly 8 percentage points in enrollment in at least one Honors or AP course compared with the baseline year. In addition, the percentage of all groups increased. Economically disadvantaged students showed the greatest increase, rising from a 25.6 to 36.4 percent participation rate. Enrollment of African American, Hispanic and white students rose by about 9 percentage points over this time period. Enrollment of LEP and Asian American students rose by nearly 8 percent, and enrollment of special education students rose by more than 4.5 percent from 2000-01 to 2003-04.

Improvements at All Schools

In addition, all regular high schools showed an increase in enrollment of students in at least one Honors or AP course between the years of 2000-01 and 2003-04. Two schools increased their participation rate by more than 15 percentage points-Wheaton with a 17.6 percent increase and James Hubert Blake with a 17.2 percent increase. Five other high schools increased enrollment between 10-15 percentage points-Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Damascus, Northwest, Seneca Valley and Thomas S. Wootton.

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