Maryland high school students who took Advanced Placement (AP) tests in 2008 have good reason to be proud. They ranked first in the nation as far as the state’s share of graduates who passed at least one AP exam.
According to The Washington Post, the College Board, which administers these exams, reports that 23.4 percent of Maryland students graduating in 2008 earned passing scores on at least one AP exam. The tests measure a student’s mastery of subject matter normally covered in first-year college courses.
Most colleges and universities require a score or at least 3 on a scale of 1 to 5 to pass the exam. Students who pass normally receive some college credits or advanced standing, depending on each school’s policy.
The Post emphasizes that students’ participation in the AP program around the country has exploded in the last 10 years. It’s not uncommon for students to enroll in several Advanced Placement courses at the same time, each carrying a heavy workload.
New York students finished second, at 23.3 percent pass rate. Virginia, with 21.3, came in third. Connecticut and Massachusetts ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. The nationwide pass rate for 2008 was 15.2 percent. About 1 out of every 10 students who took at least one AP test failed to earn a passing score, however.
Maryland and Virginia both have extensive AP programs in their high schools. For example, 46.4 percent of Montgomery County, Maryland 2008 graduates passed one or more AP tests, three times the national average.
According to The Post, Maryland and Virginia schools increased their pass rate by changing the strategy for admitting students to the AP program. In years past, they carefully limited access to a small group of top students and recruited minority students. Both jurisdictions have now opened up their AP programs to allow more students to participate each year.
The newspaper further reports that Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools for Maryland, said that in 13 of the state’s 24 school systems, at least 30 percent of the students are participating in the AP program. Maryland also has an employee whose job involves traveling throughout the school system to train teachers and to recruit underrepresented students into AP courses. This individual is partially funded by the College Board.
Not all those enrolled in AP classes are seniors. Some students, depending on when they take an AP course, are juniors or even sophomores. Many middle schools offer an accelerated mathematics track. Students in these schools typically find themselves enrolling in Algebra I as early as seventh grade.