VDOE Torch

News Release Logo

For Immediate Release
September 1, 2004

Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420

Julie Grimes
Public Information Specialist
(804) 225-2775

More Virginia Students Taking AP Examinations and Qualifying for College Credit
New Virginia Virtual Advanced Placement School Widens Access to AP Courses

The number of Virginia high school students who took Advanced Placement (AP) examinations jumped by 7.8 percent this year, according to 2003-2004 test results released this week by The College Board. The number of AP exams taken by Virginia high school students who qualified for college credit also rose significantly.

This year, 39,464 Virginia high school students took at least one AP exam, a 7.8 percent increase over the previous year’s level of participation. Of the 71,009 examinations taken, 44,935 received a grade of 3 or better, generally qualifying students for college credit. This represents an increase of 9.5 percent over 2003.

“Virginia students are increasingly confident of their ability to tackle challenging courses,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary, who noted that since the Board of Education adopted the Standards of Learning (SOL) in 1995, the number of Virginia students taking at least one AP course has doubled. “There is a clear link between rigorous coursework and higher achievement, which is why the commonwealth is expanding the availability of AP courses.”

Virginia is vigorously promoting AP courses and other college-level courses through Governor Mark R. Warner’s Early College Scholars Program and the new Virginia Virtual Advanced Placement School. High school seniors become Early College Scholars by signing an Early College Scholar Agreement in their junior or senior year and completing the terms of the agreement upon high school graduation. To qualify as an Early College Scholar participant, a student must maintain a “B” average or better; be pursuing an Advanced Studies Diploma; and be completing or have completed college-level course work equal to at least 15 transferable college credits.

Early College Scholars also take online and satellite AP courses through the Virginia Virtual Advance Placement School free of charge. So far, nearly 400 students have registered for classes through the Virginia Virtual Advanced Placement School. More information on the innovative virtual school is available on the department website at www.doe.virginia.gov.

Of the Virginia students who took AP tests during 2004, 34,239, or 87 percent, were public school students. The number of Virginia public school students taking AP examinations increased 6.9 percent from 2003 to 2004. Of the 60,983 AP exams taken by Virginia public school students this year, 37,829 qualified for college credit, an increase of 9.2 percent over 2003.

The number of African-American public school students in Virginia taking at least one AP examination rose 5.7 percent in 2004, to 2,654. Of the 4,044 AP exams taken by African-American public school students in the commonwealth 1,445 received a grade of 3 or better, an increase of 10.4 percent when compared with results of AP tests administered in 2003.

In addition, more of Virginia’s Hispanic public school students are taking AP courses and qualifying for college credit. The number of Hispanic students taking at least one AP examination rose 8.2 percent in 2004 to 1,583. Of the 2,509 AP tests taken by Hispanic public school students during 2004, 1,495 received a grade of 3 or above, which represented a 9.9 percent increase in the number of tests qualifying for college credit taken by Hispanic students.

2004 SAT-I Results

The average scores of Virginia students on the verbal and mathematics portions of the SAT I in 2004 were little changed from last year.

On the verbal or language skills portion of the college aptitude test, Virginia students achieved an average score of 515, a one-point increase over 2003. Public school students in the commonwealth achieved an average verbal score of 512, which also represented a one-point increase over the previous year. The national average on the verbal portion of the SAT-I was 508 for all students and 504 for public school students. Both of these national averages were up a point when compared with 2003.

Virginia students achieved an average score of 509 on the mathematics portion of the SAT-I in 2004, which was down one point from the previous year. The average score of public school students in Virginia on the mathematics portion of the test was 506, which was down two points compared with 2003. The national average score on the mathematics portion of the SAT I for 2004 was 518 for all students and 513 for public school students. The national average for mathematics on the SAT-I dropped one point for students overall and was unchanged for public school students.

The College Board, which administers the SAT program, does not regard the changes in the achievement of Virginia students on the SAT-I in 2004 as statistically significant and noted that the long-term trend for Virginia students reflects increased achievement. The average score of Virginia public school students on the verbal portion of the SAT-I has increased by six points since 2000 and the average score on the mathematics portion of the test has increased by nine points.

More Virginia Students Take the ACT

While the SAT-I remains the dominant college admissions test in the commonwealth, a record number of Virginia high school students took the ACT during 2004. During 2004, 10,172 Virginia students took the ACT, compared with 9,452 in 2003 and 6,191 during 2000.

The achievement of Virginia students on the ACT has risen significantly during the last four years. Last year, Virginia students achieved a composite score of 20.9 on the test, compared with 20.6 in 2003 and 20.5 in 2000. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. ACT describes increases in achievement of .05 points or greater as statistically significant.

###

VDOE Home