The College Board, which oversees the AP Exams, announced their findings late last week, noting that only the state of Maryland, with 27.9 percent of participating students scoring a three or higher (on a five point scale) surpassed New York’s rate of 26.5 percent.
“This year’s [findings] highlight the tremendous progress and success of New York’s students and educators,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “I am confident that New York’s AP community will continue to grow and will continue to offer all students the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond.”
While nationally New York State is near the top of the heap, local high schools can boast even better results.
“Increased participation in honors and AP courses is one of our main goals for this year,” said Maureen Dana, spokesperson for Saratoga Springs City School District. “Our goal is to have 80 percent of our students take at least one AP or honors course by the end of this year. So we’ve seen a very large increase, both in the numbers of students participating and in the numbers of students achieving at a high level.”
Not only has enrollment in AP courses at Saratoga Springs High School jumped dramatically over the last 10 years – from 178 students in 2001 to 483 in 2011 – scores too are on the up and up. In May of 2011, 747 AP exams were taken (students are allowed to take more than one exam in different subjects). Of the 18 subjects represented during the exams, students averaged a score of 3.50 across the board, with only two exam subjects, music theory and world history, falling below a mean score of 3.0.
For their accomplishment, Saratoga was recognized by the Washington Post in 2011 as one of the top American high schools based on their participation with AP courses. In 2010, Saratoga was also honored by Newsweek as being among the top six percent of public high schools nationwide.
The Ballston Spa School District has also seen some encouraging results from their efforts to enroll more students in AP and honors courses.
“We have steadily increased the number of tests administered over the last four years,” said Stuart Williams, spokesperson for the Ballston Spa School District. “There were 399 AP Exams administered in 2011. Of the 399 tests, 75 percent registered a score of a three or higher.”
For their achievement, Ballston Spa was recognized last year on the College Board’s AP Achievement List, the only school in the Capital Region to make the list. The AP Achievement List recognized 388 schools nationwide for opening AP classroom doors to a significantly broad pool of students while maintaining a strong percentage of students scoring a three or higher.
“We are honored to have received national recognition for the work we are doing to support student achievement,” said Ballston Spa Superintendent of Schools Joseph P. Dragone. “This award affirms our support of the AP program and provides incentive for our continual efforts to develop the strongest academic opportunities for our students as we move forward with district initiatives.”
With greater opportunities to enroll in AP courses at local districts, Duane Brown, Saratoga Springs’ department head of guidance, believes that many students can benefit from the rigorous coursework and challenging classroom setting.
“I think kids will rise to the level that you expect of them,” said Brown. “By taking the AP courses, they have an opportunity to earn college credits in high school, which is great. But I think the biggest advantage of the AP courses is that when they go off to college, they’re going to have a much better idea and feel for what’s going to be expected of them, compared to the kids who haven’t pushed or challenged themselves.”
In 2011, 40.3 percent of all graduates from New York public high schools took at least one AP Exam, a sharp increase from 31.9 percent during 2006 and 27.9 percent in 2001. With 26.5 percent of 2011 students scoring a three or higher, that figure too has jumped from 21.0 percent in 2006 and 18.7 percent in 2001.
To view the College Board’s full review on New York State’s AP achievements, visit www.oms.nysed.gov/press/documents/CollegeBoardAnnouncesAPResultsforNewYorksClassof2011.pdf.