February 6, 2007
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
Virginia has joined a select handful of states in which 20 percent or more of high school seniors earned a grade of 3 or more on an Advanced Placement (AP) examination, the College Board said today in its third annual Advanced Placement Report to the Nation. Last year, 20.7 percent of the commonwealth's public high school seniors earned a grade of 3 or better on at least one AP exam, compared with 19.3 in 2005, and 15.9 percent in 2000. Only three states, New York, Maryland, and Utah, had a higher percentage of seniors earning grades of 3 or better on AP tests during 2006. The national average was 14.8 percent.
"Today's report on AP achievement marks a significant milestone as Virginia's public schools advance from proficiency to academic excellence," said Governor Timothy M. Kaine. "They may not realize it, but the high-achieving students responsible for this good news are helping position the commonwealth for success in a global economy that demands a highly-educated and motivated workforce."
"The participation and the performance of Virginia students in these challenging courses reflect the increasing rigor of the commonwealth's high schools," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannaday Jr. "Grounded in the content of the Standards of Learning (SOL), students are reaching higher and meeting the expectations of teachers who challenge and inspire."
"Polices designed to increase access to AP courses and other advanced programs and to encourage participation are unleashing the potential of young scholars who in earlier years would not have had these opportunities to excel." said Board of Education President Mark E. Emblidge.
The College Board also recognized Virginia for narrowing the "equity gap" for African-American students. The equity gap is the difference between enrollment and representation in AP courses. In 2000, black students made up 8.4 percent of AP exam takers in the commonwealth and 24.1 percent of overall public school enrollment. In 2006, the percentage of African-American exam takers grew to 10.2 percent while black enrollment as a percentage was unchanged. Since 2001, the number of AP exams taken by black Virginia public school students has increased by 85.7 percent, from 3,315 to 6,156. During this same five-year period, the number of African-American public school students in the commonwealth taking at least one AP course has increased by 82.6 percent, from 2,164 to 3,951.
The number of Hispanic Virginia public school students taking at least one AP exam has more than doubled in the last five years, from 1,148 in 2001, to 2,310 last year. The number of AP exams taken by Hispanic Virginia public school students also has more than doubled, from 1,867 in 2001, to 3,773 last year.
The College Board report notes that since 2001, the number of AP examinations taken by low-income public school students in Virginia has increased by 2,006, reversing a downward trend in the late 1990s.
Virginia promotes AP participation by allowing students to substitute AP examinations for SOL end-of-course tests, as well as through the Early College Scholars program and the Virginia Virtual AP School. This pioneering distance-learning program offers AP courses online and via satellite, and ensures that students in all Virginia high schools have access to a variety of AP courses. Students participating in the Early College Scholars program commit to earning a semester of college credit through AP and other college-level courses while completing the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma. School divisions reported in 2006 that 8,564, or 22.5 percent, of the students who earned advanced diplomas qualified as Early College Scholars.
According to revised data in the Advanced Placement Report to the Nation, the number of Virginia public high school students who took at least one AP test increased by 13 percent, from 39,660 in 2005, to 44,816 in 2006. Since 2001, participation in AP courses and testing in the commonwealth has increased by 59 percent.
Public school students in the commonwealth took 80,783 AP examinations in 2006, an increase of 13.8 percent over 2005. Examinations with a score of 3 or above taken by public school students increased by 11.5 percent in 2006 in Virginia, to 48,046. During 2006, 59.5 percent of the AP exams taken by Virginia students earned a grade of 3 or better.
The 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 national leaders in student achievement on AP examinations.
The Fairfax County school is recognized for a third consecutive year as the highest-performing large high school in the following AP courses: U.S. Government and Politics, U.S. History, French Language, Chemistry, and Calculus BC. The Richmond school is lauded for a second consecutive year as having the highest percentage of students earning a 3 or above in Comparative Government and Politics and U.S. Government and Politics of any medium-sized high school in the nation.
Broadwater Academy , a private school in Exmore, is cited in the College Board report as the nation's highest performing small high school in Latin for a second consecutive year. Norfolk Academy, an independent school in Norfolk, is recognized as having the strongest AP German Language program in the nation for a medium-sized school.