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Advanced Placement participation, performance continue to increase

Oregon numbers double during last decade


The number of Oregon students taking, and succeeding in, Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams continues to increase, according to information recently released in the College Board’s annual Advanced Placement Report to the Nation.

Last year, more than 8,000 Oregon graduates, or 26 percent, were found to have taken at least one AP exam during their high school career. A decade ago, that number was approximately 3,600, or 11.7 percent.

In addition to the increase in participation, performance has also gone up.

In 2002, only 8 percent of graduates received a score of 3 or higher (the score generally associated with receiving college credit) on an AP exam. This has more than doubled with 16.2 percent of last year’s graduating class, more than 5,000 students, receiving a 3 or higher on an AP exam while in high school.

“Preparing students for a smooth transition to higher education requires providing them with rigorous and relevant instruction, creating a college-going culture in our schools and encouraging students to complete college credits while still in high school,” said Oregon Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “We know that students who are exposed to rigorous coursework while in high school and exit with college credits already under their belts are more likely to go on to, and succeed in, higher education.”

A number of tools are available to Oregon schools and districts to help increase participation and performance in Advanced Placement courses. The College Board offers a program called AP Potential, which identifies specific AP courses students are likely to do well in based on the student’s PSAT results.

The PSAT is offered to all Oregon sophomores, making AP Potential data readily available for most Oregon high school students. And thanks to a partnership between the Oregon Virtual School District and Apex Learning, Oregon students now have access to a range of tools and resources to help them better prepare to take their AP exams. These resources are available for free to all public schools.

Despite gains in recent years, minority and low-income students are still under-represented in these courses, and participation and performance gaps still exist. In the 2011-12 school year, 14,071 Oregon students took a total of 22,039 AP exams. However, students of color were less likely than their peers to take these exams or receive a grade of 3 or higher. 

“Our students have incredible potential but unfortunately, not all of them are currently realizing that potential,” Saxton said. 

Expanding access to rigorous coursework and better preparing students for higher education are directly linked to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s strategic investments around guidance and support for post-secondary aspirations. 

“This level of rigor needs to become the norm in our schools,” Saxton said. “We have the tools to help these students prepare for a successful post-secondary transition. We just need to make sure these opportunities are available to all of our students regardless of race, income, native language, or where they happen to live.”

To learn more about Oregon Advanced Placement results and the College Board’s Advanced Placement Report to the Nation, go to collegeboard.org.



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