Virginia Third in Number of Seniors With Qualifying AP Scores

by | May 16, 2015 | Schools & Education

Information and graphic provided by the Virginia Department of Education, edited by Susan Larson.

Virginia had the nation’s third-highest percentage of public high school seniors qualifying for college credit on Advanced Placement (AP) examinations in 2014, according to data released by the College Board.

The percentage in Virginia also increased over the previous year, with 30 percent of the commonwealth’s 2014 graduating seniors earning a grade of three or higher on at least one AP examination, compared with 28.3 percent in 2013.

Maryland at 31.8 percent and Connecticut at 30.8 percent were the two states with higher percentages of seniors earning qualifying scores. Florida tied Virginia for third place in AP performance, with 30 percent of its 2014 graduates also qualifying for college credit. Nationwide, 21.6 percent of 2014’s graduating seniors achieved a score of three or higher on at least one AP test.

King George County was among four Virginia school divisions recognized by the College Board as honor roll districts for raising achievement on AP examinations while increasing access to the courses. The three other Virginia districts on the College Board’s 2015 AP Honor Roll are Powhatan County, Prince William County and the City of Alexandria.

The College Board also recognized Quantico Middle/High School on Marine Corps Base Quantico as an honor roll district.

Of the 35,371 class of 2014 graduates who took at least one AP test during their high school careers, 22,900 — or 65 percent — earned qualifying scores.

The number of African-American seniors graduating from high school having taken at least one AP examination more than doubled in 10 years. In 2014, 4,860 black graduates participated in AP testing during high school, compared with 1,724 of 2004’s African-American graduates. During the same period, the percentage of black graduates earning at least one qualifying AP score rose 6.9 points to 10.6 percent in 2014, compared with 3.7 percent in 2004.

The number of Hispanic Virginia graduates who took at least one AP examination more than tripled since 2004. In 2014, 3,062 of Virginia’s Hispanic graduates took at least one AP test, compared with only 940 of 2004’s Hispanic graduates. During the same period, the percentage of Hispanic graduates earning at least one qualifying AP score rose 6.3 points to 28 percent in 2014, compared with 21.7 percent in 2004.

The commonwealth uses federal grant money to subsidize AP test fees for low-income students. Virginia also promotes AP participation through the Early College Scholars initiative, which allows students to earn transferable college credit while completing the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma, and through the Virtual Virginia online program, which expands the number of AP courses available to students, especially in rural areas.

In addition, Virginia students earning a score of two or higher on certain AP examinations may substitute the tests for end-of-course SOL assessments in corresponding subject areas. And enrollment in AP courses is among the criteria for recognition of schools and school divisions under the Virginia Index of Performance awards program created by the Board of Education to encourage advanced learning and achievement.

The 10 most popular AP courses among Virginia’s 2014 graduating seniors were, in descending order, US History, followed by English Language and Composition, U.S. Government and Politics, English Literature and Composition, Psychology, World History, Calculus AB, Statistics, Biology and Environmental Science.

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