ATLANTA — Southern Regional Education Board states continue to increase participation of high school students in the Advanced Placement (AP) program, outpacing the national rate for the eighth straight year in 2009, a new SREB report shows. Even as higher percentages of students took AP courses in all 16 member states, the region continued to match the nation in the percentage of graduating seniors who passed an AP exam in high school.
The SREB region overall continued to surpass the nation in 2009 in the percentage of graduating high school seniors who had taken at least one AP exam, with 29 percent taking one or more tests compared with 26 percent nationally. Eight SREB states had higher rates of students who had taken the exams than the nation: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
SREB states also remained even with the nation for the third time in a row in the percentage of graduating seniors who passed at least one AP exam in high school — both at 16 percent, up 1 percentage point from 2008. Five SREB states had higher percentages than the nation on this measure: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.
SREB’s Challenge to Lead Goals for Education recognize the AP program as key to introducing more students to rigorous, college-preparatory courses. The goals call for SREB states to raise enrollment and "passing" rates until all groups of students exceed national averages. "Passing" means scoring a 3 or higher, the level at which most colleges award credit.
"Seniors in SREB states are keeping pace with the nation in their success in AP courses," said Joan M. Lord, SREB’s vice president for education policies. "This means that the region is now poised to meet the goal for students passing AP exams to exceed national rates.
"More minority students and students from low-income families also are taking AP courses in many states. This is a step forward for our region," she said.
From 2004 to 2009, SREB states led the nation in the percentage of seniors who passed at least one AP exam and were Hispanic, with 16 percent in the SREB region compared with 14 percent nationally. Florida and Texas, which account for much of the region’s overall Hispanic population, had higher percentages of students who passed an AP exam and were Hispanic than the nation:
Black students continued to be underrepresented in AP courses in every SREB state. Alabama, Delaware and Maryland increased the percentage of AP students who were black and who passed at least one AP exam by 3 percentage points from 2004 to 2009, the largest increase in the SREB region.
In the SREB region, the percentage of seniors who took at least one AP exam and were from low-income families rose 5 percentage points from 2004 to 2009, equaling the national rate. The percentage of seniors in SREB states who passed at least one AP exam and were from low-income families trailed the national rate by 1 percentage point in 2009, but Florida, Oklahoma and Texas exceeded the U.S. rate.
In some SREB states, extra efforts are paying off. The SREB report notes that the College Board and the National Governors Association recently commended Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky for participating in special initiatives to expand access to AP courses. These states more than doubled the number of minority students in AP courses from 2006 to 2008.
The report recommends that state policy-makers set clear targets for increasing rates, help offer more AP courses through state virtual (online) schools and increase professional development for teachers as further steps for increasing students’ AP success.
For more information about AP participation in the region, contact SREB Communications or see Participation and Success in the Advanced Placement Program Continue to Grow in SREB States at www.sreb.org.
The Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, based in Atlanta, was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. More information is available online at www.sreb.org.