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Crystal Greene, 503-947-5650

February 20, 2013

Advanced Placement Participation and Performance Continue to Increase

Free resources available to identify and support students in AP classes

(Salem, Ore.)
– According to information released today in the College Board’s annual Advanced Placement Report to the Nation, the number of Oregon students taking, and succeeding in, Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams continues to increase. A decade ago, approximately 3,600 Oregon graduates, or 11.7%, took at least one AP exam during their high school career. Last year, that number was over 8,000 and represented 26% of our 2012 graduates. In addition to the increase in participation, performance has also gone up. In 2002, only 8% of graduates received a score of three or higher (the score generally associated with receiving college credit) on an AP exam. This has more than doubled with 16.2% of last year’s graduating class, over 5,000 students, receiving a 3 or higher on an AP exam while in high school. However, despite gains in recent years, minority and low-income students are still under-represented in these courses, and participation and performance gaps still exist.

“Preparing students for a smooth transition to higher education requires providing them with rigorous and relevant instruction, creating a college-going culture in our schools, and encouraging students to complete college credits while still in high school,” said Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “We know that students who are exposed to rigorous coursework while in high school and exit with college-credits already under their belts are more likely to go on to, and succeed in, higher education. As we work to improve our college-going rates and to close the access and opportunity gaps that exist in our state, we have an obligation to dramatically increase the number of students taking Advanced Placement or other accelerated courses. This level of rigor needs to become the norm in our schools. We have the tools to help these students prepare for a successful post-secondary transition. We just need to make sure these opportunities are available to all of our students regardless of race, income, native language, or where they happen to live.”

A number of tools are available to Oregon schools and districts to help increase participation and performance in Advanced Placement courses. The College Board offers a program called AP Potential which identifies the specific AP courses students are likely to do well in based on the student’s PSAT results. The PSAT is offered free of charge to all Oregon sophomores, making AP Potential data readily available for most Oregon high school students. And thanks to a partnership between the Oregon Virtual School District and Apex Learning, Oregon students now have access to a range of tools and resources to help them better prepare to take, and succeed in, their AP exams. These resources are available free of charge to all public schools; click here to learn more about the Apex AP exam review resources.

In the 2011-12 school year, 14,071 Oregon students took a total of 22,039 AP exams. However, students of color were less likely than their peers to take theses exams or receive a grade of three or higher. Hispanic students made up 21% of the K-12 student population in 2011-12 but only represented 9.7% of the AP test takers and only 41% of the exams taken by Hispanic students received a score of 3 or higher. Black students made up 1.6% of AP test takers last year, compared to 2.5% of the overall student population, and also received a three or higher on 41% of their AP exams. Native American students made up 1.8% of the student population but only 0.7% of AP test takers, with 51% of tests receiving a score of three or higher. In comparison, White students made up 68.8% of test takers, more than the 65% they represented in the overall student population, and 62% of their tests received a 3 or higher.

“Our students have incredible potential but unfortunately, not all of them are currently realizing that potential,” said Deputy Superintendent Saxton. “As educators, we have to examine the tracking systems that exist in far too many of our schools. These systems limit the access and opportunity for many of our historically underserved students. We need to take a proactive approach to identifying and recruiting students who might not otherwise enroll in AP and other advanced coursework and provide them with access to the tools they need to succeed and earn those college credits. Parents are also critical partners in this process and can help instill the importance of gaining exposure to college-level content and credits while in high school.”

Expanding access to rigorous coursework and better preparing students for higher education are directly linked to the Governor’s strategic investments around guidance and support for post-secondary aspirations. Increasing participation and performance in accelerated courses and assessments will help prepare students to meet our state’s 40-40-20 goal and will make college more accessible and affordable for Oregon families.

To learn more about Oregon Advanced Placement results and the College Board’s Advanced Placement Report to the Nation, go to: http://www.collegeboard.org/.

Rob Saxton, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction
Crystal Greene, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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255 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97310-0203

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