More District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) students than ever before are taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, according to data available from the College Board made available today. The new report out today shows that DC, as a state, graduated the greatest percentage of students who took an Advanced Placement exam in high school. From 2010 to 2013, the number of DCPS students taking AP exams has dramatically increased with 45 percent more students taking the exam. In addition, the number of AP exams on which students earned a passing grade of a three or above has increased by 53 percent since 2010. This success is due in large part to the commitment of DCPS to broaden student access to AP courses and to create a college-going culture for students.
“This is another great victory for DCPS and for our city,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “While we still have much more progress to make, this data makes it clear we are on the right track and we need to continue supporting all of our high school students.”
“A few years ago, we made the deliberate decision to raise the bar for our students by ensuring all of our high schools students have access to Advanced Placement courses. In the short time since that policy was put in place, our schools have risen to the challenge and our students are reaping the benefits of greater access to college-level learning,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “We still have work to do, but with more students taking these classes and passing the AP exam every year, we are helping our students prepare for the academic demands of college and changing the culture at our schools.”
Since the 2010-2011 school year, all DCPS schools are required to offer at least one AP course in each of the four core subject areas: math, science, English and social studies. AP classes are open to any student who has taken the pre-requisite courses. There are no other requirements for enrollment.
The number of students taking AP exams grew by 45 percent, with 2,534 students taking the exam in 2013 compared with 1,753 in 2010. Participation has increased particularly among Latino students, who took 100 more exams in 2013 compared to 2012. In addition, the pass rate (percent of students scoring a three or higher on the exam) among Latino students climbed three percentage points.
“We applaud the hard-working teachers and administrators within DCPS who have implemented college-level Advanced Placement course work in their schools,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and Instruction at the College Board. “These educators have proven that with the right support systems, many more students can participate and succeed in AP, which can help them to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college and beyond.”
DCPS is offering 30 of the 34 College Board approved AP courses this school year, with 141 unique AP course offerings in 15 high schools. This represents a 17.5 percent increase from the AP courses offered at these schools during the 2010-11 school year.
Eastern High School more than quadrupled its AP offerings in the current 2013-2014 school year, adding five new AP classes. Phelps, HD Woodson and Roosevelt High Schools nearly doubled the number of AP classes they offer.
All AP courses conclude with a standardized exam administered in May. Scores are reported on a scale of one to five. Students who score a three or higher have the opportunity to earn college credit and/or place out of introductory college courses. To make AP exams accessible to all, the District covers the cost of all exam administration fees, including student registration fees.
Analysis of AP data in the core subject areas shows that DCPS students made the most significant gains in math and English. The success rate for the AP Calculus AB exam taken in 2013 increased by 11 percentage points from 2012, while the success rate for the AP English Literature exam increased by 6 percentage points during the same time period. The most common AP Exam for DCPS was the AP English Language and Composition Exam, followed by the AP English Literature and Composition Exam and the AP World History Exam.
DCPS students also showed strong performance on the various AP world language exams. The number of students taking the AP Spanish Language Exam in 2013 increased by 45 percent since 2012, and almost half of these students earned a score of three or higher. More than two-thirds of the students who took the Chinese Language and Culture, and French Language and Culture exams in 2013, earned a score of three or higher.
This overall increase of students with access to AP’s college-level courses and exams is helping DCPS to meet its goal of doubling the number of advanced students in DCPS, as well as increasing the high school graduation rate, as part of the strategic plan outlined in A Capital Commitment.
For more details about Advanced Placement in DCPS, click here.
More information about The College Board’s The 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation, with more comprehensive data about Advanced Placement, is available here.
Editor's note: This version has been updated to correct an error made in the earlier version.