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Advanced Placement Participation and Success Grows in MCPS

November 28, 2012
Record number of AP exams taken in 2012

Students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) took a record number of Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2012, and the district saw a significant increase in the percentage of exams earning a college-ready score.

MCPS students took 32,974 AP exams in 2012, an increase of 1,240 exams from 2011 and the most exams taken during any year in MCPS history. Across the district, 75 percent of those exams received a college-ready score of 3 or higher, an increase of more than 3 percentage points from 2011 and the highest percentage since 2006.

The percentage of AP exams scoring a 3 or higher in MCPS is significantly higher than the percentage in the state of Maryland (61.4 percent) and the nation (57.3 percent).

“These results show that our efforts to provide students with access to rigorous classes are making a difference and that our students are prepared for this work,” said Board of Education President Shirley Brandman. “The positive trends in AP participation and performance provide evidence that MCPS is breaking down barriers and providing more challenging curricular opportunities for students of all races and ethnicities.”  

Over the past several years, MCPS has made a concerted effort to give more students access to rigorous classes, such as AP. In the past five years, the number of AP exams taken by MCPS students has grown 36 percent. Yet, in that time, the percentage of exams earning a college-ready score has remained high and increased slightly from 73.7 percent to 75 percent.

African American and Hispanic students continued to outperform their peers across the state and the nation on AP exams. In 2012, 3,106 AP exams were taken by African American MCPS students, an increase of more than 48 percent in the past five years. Of those exams, 51.8 percent received a college-ready score, significantly higher than the percentage in Maryland (30.9 percent) and the nation (27.7 percent).

Hispanic students have also shown dramatic growth in AP participation and performance. There were 4,016 AP exams taken by Hispanic MCPS students in 2012, an increase of more than 90 percent in just five years. Of those exams, 60 percent received a college-ready score, also significantly higher than the state (53.4 percent) and the nation (41.3 percent).

MCPS has contributed greatly to Maryland’s outstanding AP participation and performance. While the district represents about 17 percent of the state’s public school enrollment, MCPS students account for 32.2 percent of all the AP exams taken in Maryland and 39.4 percent of the state’s AP exams that received a college-ready score.

“Advanced Placement is a strong indicator of readiness for college-level work and it is clear that MCPS is a leader across the state and the nation in AP participation and success,” said Superintendent Joshua P. Starr. Dr. Starr noted that while improvement has been made among all students, there are still gaps in access and performance among different groups of students.

“We must continue to provide all of our students with access to meaningful, relevant classes—like AP—that prepare them for success in college and beyond,” Dr. Starr said. “I know that MCPS has the staff and the strong community support to get this work done better and faster than any school district in the nation.”

Among highlights of MCPS AP performance in 2012:

- There were 16,797 students who took at least one AP exam in 2012, an increase of 537 students from 2011. Of the students who took at least one AP exam, 76.7 percent had at least one exam that earned a college-ready score of 3 or higher, an increase of 3.4 percentage points from 2011.

- Fourteen high schools saw an increase from 2011 in the number of AP exams taken, with the largest increases at Walt Whitman (+323 exams); Thomas S. Wootton (+313); Northwest (+297); Winston Churchill (+237); and Quince Orchard (+145) high schools.

- Eleven MCPS high schools saw growth in
both the number of AP exams taken and the percentage of those exams receiving a college-ready score. Of those schools, the biggest jumps in the percentage of exams earning a college-ready score were at Wheaton (+9.6 percentage points); Rockville (+8.1); Bethesda-Chevy Chase (+5.0); Sherwood (+4.3); and Damascus (+2.8) high schools.

- Four MCPS high schools—Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Montgomery Blair, Col. Zadok Magruder and Rockville—saw an increase from 2011 in both the number of exams taken by Hispanic and African American students and the number of exams that earned a college-ready score.

Scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP exam is one of the MCPS Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness—a series of benchmarks that indicates a student is ready for postsecondary education and the workplace. Data from the MCPS graduating classes of 2001 through 2004 show that more than three-quarters (76%) of the students who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam received a college degree within six years of graduation. This was three times higher than the rate of students who did not take an AP exam (25.3%). 


Report on 2012 AP Participation and Performance in MCPS

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