Maryland students have led the nation in success on the Advanced Placement (AP) exams for eight straight years, according to a new report from the College Board.
The percentage of Maryland seniors who earned a score of 3 or higher on one or more AP exams reached 29.6 in 2013, the highest percentage in the nation and an increase over the 28.1 percent tallied in 2012, according to the College Board's "10th Annual AP Report to the Nation." A score of 3 or better is the threshold at which many higher education institutions award college credit for high school students in an AP assessment.
Connecticut is ranked second in success, with 28.8 percent of its seniors earning a 3 or higher, followed by Virginia, with 28.3 percent.
The College Board said that Maryland "has led the nation in improving student access and supporting student performance in AP." The percentage of Maryland graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP test has increased nearly 12 percent points from 17.7 percent in 2003.
"Strengthening and growing the middle class is the North Star of everything we do as an Administration. And because there is no greater ladder to opportunity than education, we've made the better choice to invest in our children -- today's results are another indication that our choices are paying off," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "The AP program offers one of the most important pathways to a better future, and we are committed to preparing our students for college and career success globally. Our hardworking students, dedicated educators, and outstanding parents deserve our congratulations and support."
Trevor Packer, the College Board's senior vice president who leads the Advanced Placement program, said that Maryland's number one ranking is clearly a team effort.
"The state's legislators and educators are obviously deeply committed to broadening AP access while increasing AP Exam performance," Packer said. "We congratulate Maryland on their successes and encourage them as they move forward to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to reach their full potential."
The percentage of Maryland graduates taking an AP exam has nearly doubled over the past decade. In 2003, 25.7 percent of Maryland graduates had taken at least one AP exam during their high school career. By 2013, nearly half of all graduates had taken one of the rigorous exams--47.4 percent. Only the District of Columbia (55.7 percent) and Florida (53.1 percent) had a higher rate of participation.
"Maryland schools are focused on preparing our graduates for higher education or career, and the AP program provides students with a strong foundation upon which to build," said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery. "Our students continue to make steady progress, but there is plenty of room for improvement. We must eliminate gaps in achievement between student subgroups, making certain all of our students have the best opportunities."
"The 10th Annual Advanced Placement Report to the Nation," the College Board's analysis of the college-level assessment program, gives many high marks to efforts taking place in Maryland schools. For example:
Maryland has seen a big increase in the percentage of Black/African American students having success on the AP assessments, as 11.7 percent of students receiving a grade of 3 or better in Maryland were Black/African American. That percentage ranks third to Mississippi (13.6) and Louisiana (12.2) among states in the nation. The percentage of Black/African American test takers is also increasing.
Hispanic students in Maryland continue to perform well on the AP exams. Hispanics accounted for 9.3 percent of the Maryland graduating class last year, and 8.8 percent of the seniors who scored 3 or higher on the AP exam were Hispanic.
In raw numbers, there were 13,315 Maryland students who took an AP exam in high school in 2003, and 9,184 received a 3 or better. By last year, 27,370 students took an AP exam, and 17,111 scored a 3 or better.
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 more than 30 courses to demonstrate their knowledge of rigorous academic curriculum. Complete results are available at http://apreport.collegeboard.org.