Record number of students taking AP courses

The number of Idaho students taking a rigorous Advanced Placement exam has risen to record highs, according to a new report from The College Board.

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of high school graduates who took an AP test increased from 1,795 to 3,150, according to the Ninth Annual AP Report to the Nation, which was released Wednesday.

Idaho high school students performed better on AP tests and more minority students completed the exams than before over the last 10 years.

P1010486Highlights from The College Board’s report include:

  • About 18.4 percent of the class of 2012 took at least one AP exam, up from 11.3 percent in 2002,
  • The percent of high school graduates scoring a “3” or better on the exams increased from 7.3 percent in 2002 to 12.3 percent last year (the exam is based on a five-point scale, and a score of “3” or better is required to receive credit),
  • The percent of high school graduates who took an exam and are Hispanic or Latino more than doubled between 2002 and 2012, increasing from 2.1 percent to 6.5 percent.

In its report, The College Board described AP courses as rigorous college-level classes that correlate strongly with success in post-secondary education. The coursework helps students develop and refine their communication, critical thinking and reasoning skills.

A press release issued with the report states: “Research consistently shows that students earning placement into advanced coursework based on AP Exam scores perform as well as — or better than — students who have completed the introductory course at a college or university.”

While the increase in participation and test scores was a positive sign, Idaho State Board of Education communications and legislative affairs coordinator Marilyn Whitney said officials want to encourage even more students to take AP courses.

“Even though we’ve seen more students taking AP, we’re not seeing as many as we would like,” Whitney said. “We really want to encourage more students to look at AP courses and participate in them. There are so many benefits, even if students aren’t able to pass the test with scores to get college credit, the rigor involved in taking AP course is extremely beneficial to students.”

The report also pointed to areas of concern:

  • While Latinos and Hispanics account for 11.1 percent of last year’s graduating class, they represented only 6.5 percent of AP test takers.
  • Additionally, American Indians and Alaska Natives make up 1.9 percent of the 2012 graduating class, but just .6 percent of graduating students who took an AP exam.