For the ninth consecutive year, Maryland students are at the top of the nation in success on the Advanced Placement (AP) exams, according to new data from the College Board.
The percentage of Maryland seniors who earned a score of 3 or higher on one or more AP exam broke 30 percent for the first time — 31.8 percent in 2014. That was more than a two percentage point increase over 29.6 percent reached in 2013. A score of 3 or better is the threshold at which many higher education institutions award college credit for high school students on an AP assessment.
The percentage of Maryland graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP test has increased 12.5 percent points from 19.3 percent in 2004. That was the last year that Maryland did not rank number one in AP success.
In May 2014, Maryland high school students took nearly 80,000 AP exams that resulted in scores of 3, 4, or 5. Based on students’ opportunity to earn at least three college credits for each exam scoring 3 or better, this represents an estimated 230,838 college credits and a potential savings of $67 million in credit hour costs, according to the College Board.
Connecticut again ranked second in success, with 30.8 percent of its seniors earning a 3 or higher, followed by Florida and Virginia — both with 30.0 percent. The national average was 21.6 percent.
“Maryland schools are focused on preparing graduates for their next step, be it college or career, and the AP program provides students with a strong cornerstone for the future,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery. “Our students are making important progress, but there remains room for improvement. We must continue narrowing the gap in student achievement and make certain all students have access to getting great learning opportunities.”
The new statistics are included in AP cohort data the College Board recently released for the class of 2014. The data release replaced “The AP Report to the Nation,” which the organization had published for the previous decade.
The College Board’s new analysis of the college-level assessment program provides a variety of information on efforts taking place in Maryland schools. For example:
- More than half of all Maryland high school graduates take at least one AP exam while in high school, and that tally has nearly doubled over the past decade. In 2004, 28.9 percent of Maryland graduates had taken at least one AP exam during their high school career. By 2014, 50.9 percent of seniors were taking at least one of the rigorous exams. Only the District of Columbia (60.2 percent) and Florida (57.2 percent) had a higher rate of participation.
- The number of African American seniors who have taken an AP exam and received a grade of 3 or better has tripled since 2004. Just 716 African American seniors had received a grade of 3 or better in 2004; by 2014 that number had increased to 2,411.
- The number of Hispanic seniors receiving a 3 or better on an AP test has more than tripled over the same time period. While 589 Hispanic students received a 3 or better on at least one AP exam in 2004, the number reached 1,705 in 2014.
The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, which began in 1955, allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Students of different interests and backgrounds can choose from more than 30 courses to demonstrate their knowledge of rigorous academic curriculum.