AP success for Montgomery’s class of 2012, but gaps widen -- Gazette.Net


More students graduated from Montgomery County Public Schools last year with Advanced Placement exams under their belts, but participation levels between students of different races, household income and other subgroups widened.

Of the 10,322 Montgomery students who graduated in 2012, 67.3 percent took at least one AP exam and 52.3 percent scored “college ready” on at least one AP exam, compared to 66.1 percent and 49.6 percent of 2011 graduates, respectively, according to College Board data released Wednesday.

AP tests, which are administered by the College Board, are scored on the basis of 1 to 5 points. A score of 3 or higher indicates that the student is “college ready” in that subject and is qualified to receive college credit or advanced placement.

Wednesday’s data — which focused on 2012 graduates — painted a different picture than data released in November, which showed gaps widening, when looked at the school system as a whole.

In Wednesday’s data, the percentage of white graduates taking at least one exam increased the most of all racial groups last year, by 2.7 percentage points to 81.1 percent, while black graduates were the only group to see participation drop, by 1.5 percentage points to 43 percent.

That made the gap in participation of black and white graduates widen by 4.2 percentage points, creating a 38.1 percentage point difference.

Of Hispanic graduates, 54.2 percent took one or more exams in 2012, compared to 53 percent in 2011. Still, the participation gap between Hispanic and white graduates widen by 1.5 percentage points to 26.9 percent.

While most subgroups improved in participation and performance on the exams, two subgroups — low-income graduates and graduates whose first language was not English — saw both participation and performance fall, although by less than 5 percentage points.

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr stated in a press release Wednesday he was proud of the continued growth the system is seeing in AP participation and success, but he noted the importance of closing gaps.

“All of the data is moving in the right direction, but we must redouble our efforts to narrow gaps among students in participation and performance,” he wrote.

Despite the gaps, Montgomery graduates of all races and other subgroups continue to far outperform those across the state and the nation.

Of Maryland’s 55,219 graduates, 48.2 percent took at least one AP exam and 29.6 percent scored college ready on at least one AP exam. Of the nation’s 2.95 million graduates, 32.4 percent took one or more exam and 19.5 percent scored college ready on at least one exam.

Maryland is the state with the highest percentage of graduates who earn a college-ready score on exams, and Montgomery County played a “significant role,” in that, the school system’s press release stated.

Montgomery graduates accounted for 33.1 percent of those who earned a college-ready score on at least on exam in the state, the release stated.

The data released today show a different picture of the achievement gaps in AP performance and participation of Montgomery County Public Schools students than results released by the College Board in November.

That data looked at the overall number of exams taken by Montgomery County Public Schools students in 2012 and the results of those exams, compared to the data released today, which looks at only 2012 graduates.

The overall results released in November showed that the school system had chipped away at gaps, with 84.1 percent of white students, 64.9 percent of Hispanic students and 54.6 percent of black students scored college ready on at least one exam.

The gap closed by 2.9 percentage points to 29.5 percent for white and black students and by 2 percentage points to 19.2 percent for white and Hispanic students, respectively, the data showed.

Also, except for students enrolled in English for Speakers of Other Languages, the data showed that a higher percentage of students in all student groups scored college ready on at least one exam; that includes all race groups, low-income students and special education students.

One of the school system’s “keys” to success in college is for students to score college ready on at least one AP test.