The number of District 202 students challenging themselves academically by taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses continues to rise and their scores on the AP exams are holding steady despite the larger number of students taking the tests.
Administrators updated the Board of Education on the AP program at the Board’s August 15, 2011 regular meeting.
Increasing the number of AP classes and access to the rigorous AP program has been a cornerstone of District 202’s work for several years to improve high school academic achievement.
The AP Program lets motivated and academically prepared high school students take challenging, college-level courses and get college credit, advanced placement or both for successful performance on the AP Exams.
In 2006, District 202 offered only four AP courses. Last school year the number increased to 24.
“The AP initiative continues to make us very proud as more of our students accept the challenge of taking these college-level courses, and do very well in them,” said District Director of High School Curriculum and Instruction Glenn Wood.
Overall, 1,570 students took 2,751 AP courses last school year. The year before, 1,359 students took 2,321 AP courses.
Enrollment in AP courses also increased in each racial subgroup measured: by about 13 percent among black students; 36 percent among Hispanic students; seven percent among white students; and 26 percent among Asian students.
Likewise, enrollment of economically disadvantage students in AP courses increased by about 31 percent, while enrollment of students with individual education plans rose by 33 percent.
The goal since the start of this initiative has been to open the door to AP programs to any student who was willing to commit to the challenge. “We want more students to participate in more challenging courses so that they can benefit from the experience,” Wood said.
Equally impressive though, is the fact that students’ achievement in AP courses has held steady, despite the dramatically-increased number of students taking AP courses and the increased rigor of those classes.
Students do not have to take the AP exams associated with their courses. However, about 51 percent of those enrolled chose to take the exam for their course (up from 46 percent the year before). The number of exams taken overall also increased this past year by 31 percent, from 1,069 to 1,401.
What’s more, about 59 percent of students taking the AP exams scored a 3 or better out of a possible 5. That’s down slightly from 60 percent the prior year, but still impressive considering the increasing number of students participating in the AP program, Wood said.
District 202 students’ average AP score last year was a 2.8, the same as the year before, and the same as the national average, Wood said.
A “3” is considered passing, though many universities give college credit for AP courses only for scores of 4 or 5.
“We definitely want to work on increasing the number of fours and fives, so that our students can fully benefit from the opportunity the AP program provides,” Wood said.
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