Assessment News in Brief

What’s Up With AP?

By Stephen Sawchuk — February 12, 2019 1 min read
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About 1.24 million students—or nearly 40 percent of the class of 2018—took at least one Advanced Placement exam in 2018, for a grand total of some 4.22 million tests. And about 23.5 percent of those students got a score of 3 or higher, which sometimes confers college credit, according to the tally released last week by the College Board.

The annual data dump isn’t just a check-in on the venerable advanced-coursework program. It’s also where the AP highlights certain initiatives or announces new changes in approach, and this year is no exception.

1. The AP is shifting its test-registration date to Nov. 15 for all schools.

Until now, students enrolled in AP classes have had until the spring to decide whether to take the exams. But under the new policy, they’ll be asked to enroll in the exams much earlier in the school year. In effect, the College Board is slowly shifting toward a new norm, in which most students will be expected to take the exams.

2. Participation by underrepresented students continues to improve, but remains a big challenge.

For example, black and Native American students continue to be considerably underrepresented both in terms of taking the exams and scoring a 3 or more on them, relative to their numbers in the class of 2018. On the other hand, the trend for Hispanic/Latino students is heading in the right direction.

3. Participation in the new AP Computer Science Principles test continues to boom.

The course has also helped boost the number of black, Latino, and female students taking computer science by triple-digit percentages. The course, however, is more of a survey of computer science than a technical, skills-building course like Computer Science A, which focuses on a programming language.

4. AP is excited about its new “capstone” courses.

The Capstone Seminar and Capstone Research courses measure collaboration, critical thinking, and research skills in a series of projects. Students who complete these yearlong classes and several other AP classes can earn a diploma recognition upon graduation. Numbers are growing for these classes, too.

Demographics and Participation: AP Tests, 2018

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A version of this article appeared in the February 13, 2019 edition of Education Week as What’s Up With AP?

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