Federal

More Low-Income Students Taking AP Classes

By Catherine Gewertz — February 04, 2009 3 min read

Link to College Success

The fifth annual report on AP scores was released Feb. 4 by the College Board, the New York City-based nonprofit organization that sponsors the program. In the graduating class of 2008, it shows, 17 percent of the students who took the exams were from low-income families, up from 16.2 percent in the class of 2007 and 11.6 percent in the class of 2003.

“Major initiatives are needed to ensure adequate preparation of students in middle school [and] 9th and 10th grades so that all students will have an equitable chance at success when they go on to take AP courses and exams later in high school,” the report said.

Twenty-five percent of the members of the class of 2008 took an ap exam some time during high school, the report says, compared with 19 percent in the class of 2003. The proportion passing AP tests was 15.2 percent, up from 14.4 percent in 2007.

The graduating class of 2008 had 61,191 more AP test-takers than did the previous graduating class, a development many educators laud because it suggests wider access to challenging coursework and more substantial preparation for college.

In the previous four years, as the number of test-takers rose, the proportion of tests earning a passing grade slid from about 60 percent to 57 percent. But for the class of 2008, it stayed at 57 percent, even as more students took the exams, the data show.

Making Gains

Low-income students made up 13.4 percent of those receiving a passing score—a 3 or higher on a 5-point scale—compared with 13.1 percent the previous year and 9.8 percent in the class of 2003, the College Board figures show.

Minority participation in the program showed gains among Latino students and, to a lesser extent, black students. In the class of 2007, 14 percent of the test-takers were Hispanic. By 2008, 14.8 percent were Hispanic, which is close to proportionate since that group makes up 15.4 percent of the general student population.

Black students were 7.8 percent of the number of test-takers in 2008, compared with 7.4 percent in 2007. They are far more underrepresented on the exams, however, the report says, since blacks account for 14.4 percent of students.

The proportions of white, Asian, and Native American students taking AP exams were almost unchanged.

Students of Asian heritage had the highest mean score, 3.09, on the tests in all 37 subjects combined. The national mean was 2.83. White students turned in a mean score of 2.97; African-American students, 1.91; and Native Americans, 2.40. Latino students were divided into three subgroups: Mexican or Mexican-American (2.37), Puerto Rican (2.39), and other Hispanic (2.45).

In a conference call with reporters, Trevor Packer, the College Board vice president who oversees the AP program, said the gaps show that some minority students are “not always receiving adequate preparation for the rigors of college-level coursework.”

States with large Hispanic populations—such as California, Florida, and Texas—are starting to see more AP participation by Hispanic students because those states have been focusing on encouraging them to take the courses and tests for several years, he said, while states with large African-American populations have begun that work more recently.

More Teachers Trained

Mr. Packer attributed the increased rates of participation by low-income students in part to the training of more teachers to teach AP courses, through programs such as the College Board’s summer training scholarships. States and districts are also using federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s AP Incentive Program to build the low-income AP population by expanding teacher training and offering more skill building for students.

David Wakelyn, who oversees the National Governors Association’s initiative to expand access to the ap program in six states, said some states, such as Louisiana, Missouri, and North Dakota, need to build opportunity to take AP classes.

The good news, he said, is that “the answers are there” in states such as Maryland, which had the largest share of students in the class of 2008 passing AP tests (23.4 percent), and Maine and Vermont, which produced the strongest one-year and five-year gains, respectively, in their percentages of students passing the exams.

A link to “AP Report to the Nation” is supplied at edweek.org/links.
A version of this article appeared in the February 11, 2009 edition of Education Week as More Low-Income Pupils Taking AP Classes, Board Says

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Interactive Learning Best Practices: Creative Ways Interactive Displays Engage Students
Students and teachers alike struggle in our newly hybrid world where learning takes place partly on-site and partly online. Focus, engagement, and motivation have become big concerns in this transition. In this webinar, we will
Content provided by Samsung
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona: Schools Must Work to Win Trust of Families of Color as They Reopen
As Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced new school reopening resources, he encouraged a focus on equity and student engagement.
4 min read
Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing Feb. 3, 2021.
Now-U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing in February.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal CDC: Nearly 80 Percent of K-12, Child-Care Workers Have Had at Least One COVID-19 Shot
About four out of five teachers, school staffers, and child-care workers had first COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of March, CDC says.
2 min read
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11, 2021. Teachers received their first vaccine during an all-day event at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP
Federal Ed. Dept. to Review Title IX Rules on Sexual Assault, Gender Equity, LGBTQ Rights
The review could reopen a Trump-era debate on sexual assault in schools, and it could spark legal discord over transgender student rights.
4 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Q&A EdWeek Q&A: Miguel Cardona Talks Summer Learning, Mental Health, and State Tests
In an interview after a school reopening summit, the education secretary also addressed teachers' union concerns about CDC guidance.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17.
Andrew Harnik/AP