Virginia Students Third in Nation in Advanced Placement Tests

For a fifth consecutive year, Virginia students rank third in the nation in achievement on Advanced Placement (AP) tests. More than one in four of Virginia’s 2011 public high school graduates demonstrated college-level achievement. Only two states, Maryland and New York, had higher percentages of high school seniors qualifying for college credit on the rigorous tests.

The College Board reports that 25.6 percent of the commonwealth’s 2011 graduating seniors earned a qualifying score on at least one AP exam, compared with 18.1 percent for public school students nationwide.

“It is rewarding to see that more than 40 percent of our graduating seniors challenge themselves by enrolling in AP courses,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright. “Our students’ increasing mastery of college-level studies testifies to the continued effectiveness of the Standards of Learning program and the commitment of Virginia educators to challenging students to higher levels of learning and achievement.”

Last year, 20,542 Virginia seniors scored a three or higher on an AP exam at some point during their high school careers. This compares with 2001, when only 17,150 seniors took an AP exam and only 10,900 earned a score of three or higher.

According to the College Board, much of the commonwealth’s continued success results from increased participation and achievement of Virginia’s traditionally underserved graduates including African American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino and low-income students.

Eight Virginia school divisions were among the 367 districts recognized by the College Board for simultaneously increasing access to AP courses and raising achievement on the examinations. The Virginia divisions making the College Board's AP honor roll are as follows:

Albemarle County Public Schools
Goochland County Public Schools
King George County Public Schools
Manassas Park Public Schools
New Kent County Public Schools
Roanoke County Public Schools
Rockbridge County Public School
Rockingham County Public Schools

Wright praised the contribution of the commonwealth’s affiliate of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in increasing AP achievement during 2011. Virginia is one of six states participating in NMSI which is designed to increase the number of students taking and succeeding in math and science AP exams.

While Virginia’s ranking among the states did not change, the number of seniors taking AP tests again increased as did the percentage of students earning a grade of three or higher.

According to the College Board, students who score a three or higher on AP exams typically have greater academic success in college and are more likely to graduate on time with a degree than comparable non-AP peers.


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