Student Participation in Advanced Placement Exams Increases in School Year 2012-2013

Student Participation in Advanced Placement Exams Increases in School Year 2012-2013

by DoDEA

ALEXANDRIA, VA — February 6, 2014 — Nearly 100 more Advanced Placement (AP) exams were taken by Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) students in School Year (SY) 2012-2013 over the previous school year. In SY 2012-2013, DoDEA students took a record-setting 6,053 AP exams. According to the College Board, which administers the AP program, approximately 3,355,934 exams were taken by public school students nationally in the spring of SY 2012-13.

Table 1. Participation and Performance of DoDEA Students on AP Exams

DoDEA student participation in AP exams has increased over the past three years. In SY12-13 approximately 22% of DoDEA students in grades 9-12 took at least one AP exam, an increase of 4% over the past three years. African American and Hispanic student participation is 10-15% below that of Asian and White students. While the participation of Asian, Hispanic, and White students has incrementally increased over the past three years, the participation of African American students decreased by 1% in 2013 (Figure 1). Females continue to participate in AP exams at higher rates than males, although the participation for both groups has increased slightly over the past three years.

Figure 1. Percentage of DoDEA Students in Grades 9-12 Taking at Least One AP Exam by Race/Ethnicity

Note. Race/ethnicity based on enrollment data in the DoDEA Student Information System.

DoDEA student performance on AP exams has remained steady for the third consecutive year. Of the 6,053 AP exams taken by DoDEA students in SY2012-13, slightly more than half (51.7%) earned a “qualifying score” of three, four or five (Figure 2). While this percentage remains below the 57% average for students in public schools nationally, the performance of DoDEA students is encouraging given their increased participation.

Figure 2. Percentage of AP Exam Scores Earning a Score of Three or Higher

Source: National data, College Board. Note. National data are for public schools only.

Despite overall improvements in performance, gaps persist between White and minority students and between females and males in both participation and performance (Table 2). African American students in DoDEA continue to outperform their public school peers nationally. In contrast, DoDEA White and Asian students continue to lag behind their public school peers nationally, falling 20% and 5% respectively below their national peers. Although performance of African American and Hispanic students in DoDEA has increased over the past three years, gaps persist between these subgroups and White and Asian students. DoDEA, as well as the nation, continues to see gaps in performance between males and females. However, the gap in DoDEA, which has remained between 2-5%, is slightly less than the gap nationally, which has averaged between 6-7% over the past three years.

Table 2. Percentage of Qualifying AP Exams by Race/Ethnicity and Gender

Source National data: College Board
Note. American Indian/Alaskan students are not presented due to the small number of students in this subgroup; national comparison data are not available for Multiracial students.

Similar to the nation, the most frequently taken AP exams in DoDEA were English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, U.S. History, and U.S. Government and Politics. However, unlike the nation, which saw the fewest exams taken in Italian and Japanese Language and Culture, the fewest number of AP Exams taken by DoDEA students were in Human Geography, Studio Art: 3D, Computer Science A, and Physics C: Electricity & Magnetics. Across subject areas, the performance of DoDEA students continues to be strong in foreign language, with approximately 82% of AP exams in this area earning a score of three or higher.

Mr. Adrian B. Talley, DoDEA’s Acting Director, praised DoDEA’s students for their achievement on the 2013-2013 AP exams and encouraged more DoDEA students to participate in the AP experience.

“DoDEA is very fortunate to be able to offer rigorous AP courses in all of our brick and mortar secondary schools,” Mr. Talley said. “In addition, thanks to the diverse offerings of AP courses provided by our Virtual High School, students can take advantage of specific AP courses not offered in their schools because of a small school size,” he added.

“We will be working toward narrowing the minority achievement gaps we are experiencing and focusing on a goal to increase our overall scores so that more students will achieve a 3 or higher on the AP exam,” said Mr. Talley.

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for Department of Defense dependents that would otherwise not have access to a high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, the United States, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Education Activities throughout the U.S. that serve children of military families.

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