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More MCPS Students Taking, Passing Advanced Placement Exams

December 1, 2009
ROCKVILLE, MD—Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) showed its largest increase in seven years in the number of AP exams taken and passed by students, Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast announced Tuesday.

Dr. Weast released the results during a press conference at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.

“Our students continue to show tremendous progress in AP, clearly demonstrating that they want to take challenging classes and are ready for college-level work,” Board of Education President Shirley Brandman said. “We should be very proud that our greatest area of growth has been among our African American and Hispanic students, who, in just five years, have practically doubled the number of AP tests they are taking.”

In 2009, MCPS students took 28,575 AP exams, an increase of 2,654, the largest such growth since 2002. The number of tests taken has increased more than three-fold in the past decade and represents 33.5 percent of all AP exams taken by public school students in the state of Maryland.

“Montgomery County is already a state and national leader when it comes to AP, so a 10 percent increase in one year is a very significant jump,” Dr. Weast said. “We have worked hard over the past several years to make AP available to more students and those efforts are paying strong dividends.”

MCPS students continue to perform well on the tests, even as participation increases. MCPS students scored a 3 or higher on 72.3 percent of AP exams taken in 2009, significantly higher than the state of Maryland (61%) and the nation (57%). In fact, MCPS students accounted for nearly 40 percent of exams statewide that scored a 3 or higher, while representing 16 percent of the total student population. The 2,342 increase in the number of AP exams scoring a 3 or higher is also the largest jump since 2002.

Dr. Weast emphasized that scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam is one of the important milestones in the 7 Keys to College Readiness and the data bears that out.

“An MCPS student who passed an AP exam is three times more likely to get a college degree within six years of graduating high school,” Dr. Weast said. “It’s clear that success in AP translates to success in college.”

AFRICAN AMERICAN, HISPANIC GROWTH IN AP
Students in all racial subgroups are showing dramatic growth in the number of AP exams taken and
the number scoring 3 or higher. However, African American and Hispanic students are making the biggest gains.

“African American and Hispanic students at MCPS are outperforming their peers across the state and the nation,” said Dr. Weast. “We must continue our efforts to offer all of our students access to rigorous classes that will prepare them for the future.”

In 2009, MCPS African American students took 2,877 exams, a one-year increase of 14.6 percent. Nearly 48 percent of those exams scored a 3 or better, an increase over last year and significantly higher than the percentage in Maryland (28.4 percent) and the nation (25.2 percent).

Dr. Weast noted that MCPS African American students represent 10 percent of the total African American public school population in Maryland, but had nearly 40 percent of the AP exams that scored 3 or higher.

Hispanic students also showed dramatic gains on AP in 2009. MCPS Hispanic students took 2,789 AP exams in 2009, which is 17 percent higher than last year. More than 55 percent of those exams scored a three or better, which is, again, higher than the percentage in Maryland (53.1%) and the nation (41.3%). MCPS Hispanic students accounted for well over half of the tests taken by Hispanic students in Maryland and those that scored 3 or better.

AP EQUALS COLLEGE SUCCESS
Dr. Weast emphasized that taking AP classes is an important step in college success.

“If we are serious about preparing all of our students to handle college, we must prepare them with rigorous classes in high school,” Dr. Weast said. “Advanced Placement is one of the ways that MCPS is making that happen for our students and we will continue to emphasize these classes as a key to success after graduation.”

Data on MCPS graduates from 2001 to 2003 show that:

•More than 76 percent 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%).

•More than 60 percent of students who took an AP exam but scored lower than a 3 received a college degree within six years of graduation, showing that just taking AP classes correlates to greater success in college.

•Among African American students, more than 65 percent of those who scored a three or higher on an AP exam received a college degree within six years of graduation. That is 47 points higher than the rate among African American students who did not take an exam (18%).

•Among Hispanic students, 52 percent who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam received a college degree within six years of graduation. That is nearly five times the rate among students who did not take an AP exam.

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