Advanced Placement test participation rates in Prince George’s County Public Schools continue to rise amid aggressive efforts to expand access to AP course offerings.
Results released last week by the College Board show a 68 percent increase in the number of AP exams taken in Prince George’s County, from 5,329 in 2006-07 to 8,978 in 2010-11. During that time, the number of students taking one or more AP exam increased 64 percent, from 3,271 to 5,372. From 2009-10 to 2010-11, an additional 148 students took AP exams.
Rates among African American and Hispanic students have jumped exponentially, from a combined 2,252 in 2006-07 to 4,037 in 2010-11.
Last year, PGCPS landed on the College Board’s AP Achievement List for opening AP classes to a substantially broader pool of students, while maintaining or improving the percentage of students earning a score of 3 or higher on AP exams. The school system was one of fewer than 400 school districts in the nation to receive the honor.
“We are thrilled that our work to improve equity and access to Advanced Placement courses is paying off,” said Dr. William R. Hite Jr., Superintendent of Schools. “The next phase of our strategy will be to better prepare teachers and students for the exams.”
Professional development is a major focus of the school system’s strategy. PGCPS has encouraged system-wide professional learning communities for teachers in each course subject and plans to send more teachers to AP Summer Institutes.
Students in the 10 highest-enrolled subjects will have an opportunity to train with College Board staff on essay question preparation. PGCPS will again offer a summer bridge program for students who are scheduled for AP courses in the fall, focusing on college-level reading and writing strategies. Last year, the bridge program was only available at five schools. This year, it will be offered at 10 schools, five of which will have open enrollment.
In addition, PGCPS has started offering weekend AP review courses for biology and U.S. government and politics.
To improve access, PGCPS set a minimum number of AP courses that schools must offer–from eight to 18–depending on enrollment. Five AP courses are offered online to accommodate smaller schools or groups of students. The school system also covers the cost of AP exams.
How does Maryland rank overall in AP testing? Check out our post from last week on Maryland’s overall ranking from the College Board.