AP exam taking is on the rise locally and nationally

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

The nationwide high school advanced placement program saw more students than ever taking AP exams in 2018. More than 1.24 million students took 4.22 million AP exams in public high schools nationwide, according to the AP Program Results: Class of 2018 report.

The state of Connecticut ranked No. 2 among states, boasting one of the highest percentage of public high school graduates (2018) scoring a 3.0 or higher on AP exams during high school. A total of 32.2 percent of Connecticut public high school students scored a 3.0 or higher on an AP exam.

At Southington High School, 388 students took a total of 678 AP exams in 2018.

“Many of our students participate in AP courses with the intent of earning a grade that will translate into college credit at some level,” said superintendent of schools Tim Connellan. “The majority of students who enroll in AP courses do so for the rigorous content and the challenge of college level material and expectations. These opportunities have been expanded for students at SHS, especially over the past five years.”

Southington High School offers AP courses in the following subjects: biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, computer science principles, environmental science, human geography, language and composition, literature and composition, music theory, physics, politics and government, psychology, statistics, studio art (2D design and drawing), U.S. history, UConn-AP French, UConn-AP Italian, UConn-AP microeconomics and UConn-AP Spanish.

AP exams are graded with a score of 1-5. Scores exceeding 3 meet the qualification. Scoring a 2 is a possible qualification, but a 1 earns no recommendation.

Locally, approximately 18 percent of students that took an AP exam scored a 5 with 29 percent scoring a four, 32 percent scoring a three, 17 percent scoring a two, and just 4 percent earning no recommendation. The number of Southington AP students has increased over the last five years from 254 in 2014 to 388 in 2018.

Nationally, the number of U.S. public high school graduates who have taken an AP exam has increased by 65 percent over the last decade, while the number who have scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam has increased by 63 percent. In addition, the percentage of low-income students participating in AP has nearly doubled in the last decade, increasing from 30.8 percent of the total AP exam takers in 2018 compared to just 16.5 percent in the class of 2008.

“The remarkable growth brings new responsibilities for the college board. Even as we celebrate the success of AP, we are alert to the inequalities that can undermine student success,” said CEO of the college board David Coleman in the AP exam results release. “We see thousands of students who count themselves out when it’s time to take the exam. That’s why we are making the largest investment in AP to date by creating new, free resources that will reach students and teachers wherever they are.”

According to the AP exam results, more high schools are offering AP than ever before. From 2008 to 2018, the number of schools participating in AP rose from 17,032 to 22,612. The opportunity to earn college credit is a key benefit of AP. Students can save time and money and get a head start on completing their degree with credits earned from their college-level AP work.

According to graduation data from SHS, in 2018 85 percent of students went into four-year or two-year colleges. Nine percent went straight into the work force. Three percent enlisted in the military, and three percent went onto vocational or technical schools.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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