Md. Leads Nation in Advance Placement Test Improvements - Southern Maryland Headline News

Md. Leads Nation in Advance Placement Test Improvements

BALTIMORE - Maryland continues to log the greatest increases in the nation in the percentage of students scoring at college mastery levels on rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) tests, according to a new report being released today.

Maryland made the largest performance gain over the past six years, according to the College Board, which administers the AP program. The percentage of Maryland students earning a score of 3 or higher on AP exams increased 7.9 percentage points between 2000 and 2005, from 14.1 percent to 22 percent.

A score of 3 or better on the 5 point scale is considered a demonstration of college mastery, as many colleges consider awarding full credit for AP results at that level.

"Advanced Placement Report to the Nation: 2007," the College Board's third annual analysis of the assessment program, gives high marks to efforts taking place in Maryland schools. Maryland ranks second only to New York in the percentage of high school students scoring at mastery levels (22.7 percent for New York, compared to 22 percent for Maryland).

"We believe strongly in the importance of high standards, and our state's efforts to raise targets and bolster curriculum is paying dividends for students throughout Maryland," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "By challenging and supporting our students, we are paving the way for a bright future for them and for our state."

The increase in student participation in AP is taking place across-the-board. Once again, the College Board recognizes Maryland for dramatically increasing AP participation among minority students. The new report cites the state for increasing Latino participation to the point of eliminating the "equity gap."

Minority groups' representation in AP testing is too often lower than their representation in public school enrollment, resulting in what the College Board has termed the equity gap. In Maryland's 2006 graduating class, however, Latino representation in the AP was 6.0 percent-more than the proportion of Latinos in the student population (5.5 percent).

African American students comprised 14.3 percent of the pool of students taking AP exams in Maryland, up from 14.1 percent last year. It is the eighth highest percentage in the nation.

Maryland has been awarded several grants that have contributed to students' success on the AP exams:

* The AP Fee Waiver Program provides AP exam subsidies to income eligible students.

* The AP Baldrige in Education Initiative provides preparation and training for AP English Literature and Composition teachers in 10 Maryland high schools.

* Project GREAT EXPECTATIONS awarded grants to 10 Maryland school districts to increase AP performance and participation among students from low-income families and under-represented groups.

* Project NEXUS grants to 12 middle schools focus on increasing access, participation and performance of students from low income families in rigorous courses leading to AP courses, exams, and college.

The College Board's Advanced Placement Program, which began in 1955, allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Students of different interests and backgrounds can choose from among 37 subject areas to demonstrate their knowledge of rigorous academic curriculum.

The new report gives special mention to a Maryland public high school for its work in the AP program. Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's County was cited twice - for having the largest number of African American students scoring at college mastery levels in AP chemistry and for AP physics.

Source: Maryland State Department of Education

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