The College Board’s annual report summarizing student performance on the Advanced Placement (AP) test found that despite an increase in the number of students participating in and experiencing success on the test, the equity and excellence gaps between white and minority students persist.
“Through the dedication of educators and others across the country, we are making progress toward the goal of having AP classes reflect the diversity of America’s students, but the disparity still exists,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s vice president responsible for leadership of the Advanced Placement Program.“We need to ensure that all students are provided with the kind of academic experiences that can prepare them for the rigors of AP and college.”
According to The 6th Annual AP® Report to the Nation, more minority students participated in AP courses and testing in 2009 than in 2008. However, the overall number of minority students participating in AP is still considerably low, particularly in comparison to white students.
As demonstrated in the chart to the right, African American students represent 14.5 percent of the 2009 public school graduating class but only 8.2 percent of the AP examinee population.1 The trend is consistent, but the disparity is not as wide among other minority groups. For example, Hispanic students represent 15.9 percent of the 2009 graduating class and 15.5 percent of the AP examinee population.
The College Board also examined the overall percentage of minority students in a state’s 2009 high school graduating class and compared it to the percentage of minority students in a state’s graduating class that scored a “3” or higher on the AP Exam. The College Board chose 3 because it represents the score that research finds predictive of college success and college graduation.
Using this comparison, the report identifies states experiencing equity and excellence gaps. These gaps occur when a subgroup—traditionally minority students—makes up a smaller percentage of the successful student group than the student group represents in an overall graduating class. According to the analysis, eighteen states have closed the equity and excellence gap for American Indian students; sixteen states have closed the equity gap for Hispanic students; and two states have closed the equity gap for African American students. However, by not factoring in the Hispanic students whose only AP Exam score of 3 or higher was on the Spanish Language Exam, the actual number of states that have eliminated the equity gap for Hispanics is six.
In an effort to address these achievement gaps, the College Board, in 2005, partnered with the National Governors Association for Best Practices Center to support fifty-one pilot schools in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, and Wisconsin in expanding AP courses to minority and low-income students. The 6th Annual AP® Report to the Nation details the results of this effort and finds that in two years, the number of students taking AP courses in these pilot schools rose by 65 percent, and the number of minority and low-income students participating in AP more than doubled.
The report also finds that only 15.9 percent of the public school graduating Class 2009 that participated in AP earned a score that indicated they were ready for college and careers. Overall, only 26.5 percent of high school students participated in the AP Exam in 2009, which is an increase of 6.6 percent since 2004, but indicates that much more work is needed to ensure that all students have access to these higher-level courses and exams.
To read the full report, visit http://www.collegeboard.com/html/aprtn/pdf/ap_report_to_the_nation.pdf.
Categories:Students of Color