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Half of MCPS Graduates Score College-Ready on Advanced Placement Exams

February 8, 2012
MCPS Graduates Outperform the State and the Nation

Half of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Class of 2011 received a college-ready score on at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam—nearly twice the rate of the state of Maryland and nearly triple the rate of the nation’s graduates.

The percentage of MCPS 2011 graduates taking at least one AP exam hit an all-time high of 66.1 percent, according to data released Wednesday by the College Board, which administers the exams. At the same time, the percentage of students receiving a college-ready score of 3 or higher on at least one exam rose slightly to 49.6 percent.

“It is gratifying to see that our students continue to seek out challenging AP classes and to demonstrate their mastery on the AP exams,” said Shirley Brandman, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “We must continue to offer students opportunities that prepare them to be successful as they move on to postsecondary education and the world of work.”

The percentage of MCPS graduates that took at least one AP exam (66.1 percent) was significantly higher than the percentage of graduates in the state of Maryland (46.4 percent) and across the nation (30.2 percent). And the percentage of MCPS graduates receiving a college-ready score on at least one exam (49.6 percent) far outpaced graduates in Maryland (27.9 percent) and the nation (18.1 percent).

According to the AP Report to the Nation, Maryland was the state with the highest percentage of 2011 graduates that scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, and MCPS played a large role in that success. While MCPS accounted for 18 percent of the state’s graduates in 2011, the district had 26 percent of the graduates that took at least one AP exam and 32 percent of the graduates that scored a 3 or higher on at least one exam.

“I am very proud of how MCPS students are performing on AP exams and the role they have played in making Maryland a national leader in AP,” said Superintendent Joshua P. Starr. “I am also extremely pleased to see significant improvement in AP participation and performance by our African American and Hispanic students.”

The percentage of Hispanic MCPS graduates that scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam was 37.2 percent, which was 10 points higher than the state of Maryland (27.2 percent) and more than double the national percentage (15.6 percent). And the percentage of African American MCPS graduates that scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam was 22.3 percent, which was nearly triple the percentage in the state of Maryland (8.4 percent) and more than four times the national percentage (5.0 percent).

Six high schools—Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Albert Einstein, Richard Montgomery, Sherwood, Walt Whitman, and Thomas S. Wootton—demonstrated increases in both AP exam participation and performance for both Hispanic and African American graduates. 

“While we should celebrate the progress we are making, we must also pay close attention to performance variability among our students,” Dr. Starr said. “We must make sure our students not only have access to AP but have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.”

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 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 percent).


School-Level Performance

There were 17 MCPS high schools that saw an increase from 2010 to 2011 in the percentage of graduates that took at least one AP exam. The largest increases were at Northwood (up 9.1 percentage points), Damascus (6.8), Richard Montgomery (4.5) and Seneca Valley (4.4) high schools.

There were 13 MCPS high schools that saw an increase from 2010 to 2011 in the percentage of graduates that scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam. The largest increases were at Clarksburg (up 5.2 percentage points), Poolesville (5.0), Richard Montgomery (4.6) and Bethesda-Chevy Chase (4.1) high schools.

The schools with the highest percentage of graduates scoring a three or higher on at least one exam were Winston Churchill (82.8 percent), Walt Whitman (78.5 percent), Thomas S. Wootton (73.3 percent), Poolesville (72.3 percent) and Walter Johnson (70.3 percent) high schools.


Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement

Two Richard Montgomery High School seniors were recognized this week as top achievers in Advanced Placement.

Claire Liu and Victor Ying were named recipients of the 2011 Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement (AP) and each receives a $2,000 scholarship from the Siemens Foundation. Each has taken five AP courses so far.  The awards recognize one male and one female in each state as top achievers in AP Program science and mathematics courses. The awards, administered by the College Board, also recognize two national winners that receive a $5,000 scholarship. 

For more information, see the
Siemens Foundation press release.

More Information

- MCPS Class of 2011 AP Performance (with Charts)
- AP Report to the Nation

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