- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Maryland and Virginia ranked among the top five states where students earned the highest scores on Advanced Placement tests, according to a report released by the College Board yesterday.

Twenty-two percent of Maryland public school graduates in the class of 2006 scored a 3 or higher on a 5-point scale on at least one AP Exam during high school — second only to New York.

Virginia students ranked fourth in the nation, with 20.7 percent of 2006 public-school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on at least one exam, the 2007 Advanced Placement Report to the Nation shows.

“The participation and the performance of Virginia students in these challenging courses reflect the increasing rigor of the commonwealth’s high schools,” said Billy K. Cannaday Jr., Virginia superintendent of public instruction. “Students are reaching higher and meeting the expectations of teachers who challenge and inspire.”

In the District, 9.6 percent of last year’s graduating seniors scored a 3 or higher on an exam.

“Overall, we have more students taking more AP exams, and that’s a good thing,” said Audrey Williams, a spokeswoman for D.C. Public Schools. “What it shows is we want more kids to be better prepared for college.”

The national average was 14.8 percent.

The College Board, which administers the AP Exam, defines success on an AP Exam as a score of 3 or higher, which is predictive of college achievement.

“After comparing students with similar academic and economic profiles, these new studies show that the students who also succeed on an AP Exam are better prepared for the rigors of college and more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree,” College Board President Gaston Caperton said.

Forty-five percent of 2006 graduating seniors in Montgomery County scored a 3 or higher on at least one exam.

“Their success is not only a testament to the students’ hard work, but also to the outstanding job our staff is doing,” county Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said. “The great news is that we are seeing more students from more diverse backgrounds excel in the AP program.”

One of the College Board’s goals is to close “equity gaps” between the number of minorities enrolled in public schools and the number of minorities enrolled in AP courses.

Nationally, 13.7 percent of the class of 2006 was black, but black students represented 6.9 percent of AP test-takers. An estimated 14 percent of 2006 graduates were Hispanic, and an equal percentage of Hispanics were represented among those who took an exam.

The College Board cited the District and Maryland as “eliminating” the equity gap among Hispanic students, with the percentage of Hispanic students among exam-takers exceeding the percentage of total Hispanic students.

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