Record Number of Students Achieving in AP Courses

January 16, 2006
More African American and Hispanic Students Are Succeeding in AP than Ever Before

ROCKVILLE, MD – More Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) students than ever before are taking Advanced Placement courses and succeeding on the rigorous exams. Nearly twice as many students (10,389) took AP exams in the 2004-2005 school year compared to four years ago.

The increase in the number of AP test takers stretches across all student groups including African American, Hispanic, White, and Asian American students, as well as students with special needs, limited English skills and those impacted by poverty. In total, the percentage of MCPS high school students taking at least one AP exam has grown from 14.6 percent in 2001 to 23.6 percent in 2005.

“We believe that Advanced Placement courses and exams are without a doubt one of the best ways to prepare our students for the rigors of college. For five years in a row, we have seen excellent growth both in the number of students taking challenging AP courses and the number of students succeeding on the exams,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools.

Especially notable is the growth in the percentage of African American and Hispanic test takers. Over four years, this percentage has nearly doubled for both groups.

At the same time, the number of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one exam increased from 4,501 in 2001 to 8,216 in 2005, representing 79.1 percent of all test takers. A score of 3 or higher is typically the score required by colleges and universities to grant course credit.

The results are also positive for students in every subgroup. The groups include students with special needs, limited English proficiency (LEP) and students participating in the Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) program.

Percentage of Test Takers Scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam in 2004-2005

African American57.3 percent
Asian American79.0 percent
Hispanic72.3 percent
White83.2 percent
FARMS59.5 percent
Special Education75.8 percent
LEP77.9 percent

The Class of 2005

When examining the performance of 2005 graduates, this group sets another MCPS record in student participation and performance on AP exams. Among the Class of 2005, 53.7 percent of the class took at least one AP exam and 43.6 percent scored a 3 or higher on at least one exam during their high school career. The percentage of African American graduates who took an AP exam grew from 16.9 percent for the Class of 2001 to 29.2 percent for the Class of 2005. The percentage of African American graduates scoring a 3 or better increased from 10.5 percent for 2001 graduates to 17.2 percent for 2005 graduates.

For Hispanic graduates, participation increased from 21.5 percent for the Class of 2001 to 38.2 percent for the Class of 2005. The percentage scoring a 3 or higher increased from 17.6 percent to 32.8 percent.

MCPS also saw exceptional growth in the participation and performance of students with special needs, limited English skills, and those participating in the FARMS program.

Percentage of Graduates Receiving Special Services Taking AP Exams and the Percentage Scoring a 3 or Better on at Least One AP Exam

Student Subgroup 2001 2005
Special Education – Participation8.5 percent 15.7 percent
Special Education – Performance5.9 percent11.2 percent
Limited English Proficiency – Participation 9.3 percent 27.4 percent
Limited English Proficiency – Performance 7.9 percent 21.7 percent
FARMS – Participation 13.7 percent 32.2 percent
FARMS – Performance 10.3 percent 22.1 percent

The AP program currently offers courses in more than 30 subject areas. Each course is developed by a committee composed of college faculty and AP teachers,
and covers the breadth of information, skills, and assignments found in the corresponding college course.

Overall, MCPS students took 20,109 exams during the 2004-2005 school year. The most popular exams include English Language and Composition, Psychology, World History, U.S. Government and Politics, English Literature and Composition and Calculus BC.

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