February 7, 2006
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
Virginia is poised to join a select group of states in which 20 percent or more of high school seniors earn a grade of 3 or more on an Advanced Placement (AP) examination, the College Board said today in its second annual Advanced Placement Report to the Nation.
Last year, 19.3 percent of the commonwealth’s public high school seniors earned a grade of 3 or better, compared with 15.9 percent in 2000. Only four states had a higher percentage of seniors earning grades of 3 or better on AP tests during 2005. The College Board reports that New York, Maryland, and Utah were the only states in 2005 in which 20 percent or more of high school seniors earned a grade of 3 or better, generally qualifying for college credit.
“ Virginia’s success in expanding access to rigorous courses is receiving national recognition,” said Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright. “Innovative initiatives such as Early College Scholars and the Virginia Virtual AP School are opening doors in every community to learning opportunities once reserved for students in ‘elite’ schools and programs.”
Students participating in the Early College Scholars program commit to earning a semester of college credit while completing the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma. The Virginia Virtual AP School, which offers AP courses online and via satellite, ensures that students in all Virginia high schools have access to a variety of AP courses.
According to revised data in the new College Board report, the number of Virginia public high school students who took at least one AP test increased by 14 percent, from 34,784 in 2004, to 39,660 in 2005. Public school students in the commonwealth took 70,970 AP examinations in 2005, an increase of 14.3 percent over 2004. Examinations with a score of 3 or above taken by public school students increased by 11.2 percent in 2005 in Virginia, to 43,072. During 2005, 60.7 percent of the AP exams taken by Virginia students earned a grade of 3 or better, compared with the national average of 59.1 percent.
In addition to praising Virginia’s success in expanding access to Advanced Placement courses, the College Board’s Advanced Placement Report to the Nation recognizes the Maggie Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies in Richmond and the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County as global leaders in achievement on AP examinations.
The College Board identifies the Richmond school as having the highest percentage of students earning a 3 or above in Comparative Government and Politics, U.S. Government and Politics, and U.S. History of any medium-sized high school in the world. The Fairfax school is recognized as the highest-performing large high school in U.S. Government, U.S. History, French Language, French Literature, Chemistry, and Calculus BC. Broadwater Academy, a private school in Exmore, is cited in the College Board report as the highest performing small high school in the world in Latin.
The College Board report notes that since 2000, the number of AP examinations taken by low-income public school students in Virginia has increased by 1,590, reversing a downward trend in the late 1990s. Since 2000, the number of AP tests taken by African-American students has increased by 2,089, compared with an increase of 1,435 from 1995 to 2000. The number of AP examinations taken by Hispanic students in the commonwealth grew by 1,623 between 2000 and 2005, compared with 852 during the previous five-year period.