Virginia rises to third in nation on Advanced Placement Tests

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia again boasts the nation’s third-highest percentage of public high school seniors qualifying for college credit on Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, according to the College Board’s 2014 AP Report to the Nation. Virginia students ranked fifth in last year’s report — despite an increase in AP achievement — after holding the number-three spot for five consecutive years.

According to the College Board, 28.3 percent of Virginia’s 2013 graduating seniors earned a grade of three or higher on at least one AP examination, compared with 27.2 percent in 2012 and 16.5 percent in 2003. Only two states — Maryland at 29.6 percent and Connecticut at 28.8 percent — had higher percentages of seniors earning qualifying scores.

Speaking about the report, Governor McAuliffe stated, “Growing and diversifying Virginia’s economy is my top priority, and that begins with a world-class education system. This report shows that Virginia is a national leader in preparing our students for college or to join the workforce in a high demand field. I am proud of the progress Virginia schools, students and teachers have made expanding advanced placement and improving scores, but we’ve still got work to do to ensure that every child has access to a world class education in a Virginia public school.”

Secretary of Education Anne Holton continued, “Every year, more of our high school students accept the challenge of these college-level courses and assessments and gain critical knowledge that will prepare them for higher education and the workforce. What this study says is that Virginia students have built a strong foundation for advanced learning and that they have teachers and principals who encourage them to reach higher.”

The 2014 AP Report to the Nation also cited Virginia’s progress in narrowing “equity gaps” for African-American and Latino students. An equity gap describes the difference between a subgroup’s participation or achievement in AP testing and the percentage of overall enrollment represented by the subgroup.

The number of African-American seniors graduating from high school having taken at least one AP examination has more than doubled in ten years. In 2013, 4,753 African-American students participated in AP testing, compared with 1,682 in 2003. During the same period, the percentage of African-American graduates earning at least one qualifying AP score rose 2.5 points, to 7.7 percent in 2013, compared with 5.2 percent in 2003.

The number of Latino Virginia graduates who took at least one AP examination has more than tripled since 2003. In 2013, 2,867 of Virginia’s Latino graduates took at least one AP test, compared with 920 of Latino graduates in 2003. During the same period, the percentage of Latino graduates earning at least one score of three or higher rose 2.6 points, to 7.8 percent, in 2013, compared with 5.2 percent in 2003.

Overall, 34,901 of Virginia’s 2013 graduates took at least one AP examination during their high school careers. Of these students, 22,426 earned at least one score of three or higher.

Virginia students may substitute AP examinations for end-of-course SOL tests in corresponding subject areas. Enrollment in AP courses is among the criteria for recognition under the Virginia Index of Performance awards program created by the Board of Education to encourage advanced learning and achievement. Virginia also promotes AP participation through the Early College Scholars initiative and the Virtual Virginia online-learning program, and uses federal grant money to subsidize test fees for low-income students.

Six Virginia school divisions were recognized by the College Board as honor roll districts for raising achievement on AP examinations while increasing access to the courses. The divisions making the College Board’s 2014 AP Honor Roll are as follows:

  • ·         Falls Church
  • ·         Henrico County
  • ·         King George County
  • ·         Manassas Park
  • ·         Montgomery County
  • ·         Virginia Beach

The College Board also recognized the Catholic Diocese of Richmond as an honor roll district.

The most popular AP course among Virginia’s 2013 graduating seniors was US History, followed by English Language and Composition, US Government and Politics, English Literature and Composition, Psychology, World History, Calculus AB, Biology, Statistics and Environmental Science.


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