by Max Brantley
The state Education Department reports on the annual assessment of Advanced Placement courses. Arkansas students continue to top the national average in participation in AP courses. They are also gaining a little ground on the national average in pass rates.
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK: The College Board today announced in its 2009 AP Report to the Nation that one third of the 9,997 students in Arkansas’s class of 2009 taking Advanced Placement (AP) examinations scored a three or higher on a five-point scale. Once again, Arkansas has a higher percentage of graduating students who take the exam – 34 percent – than the national average of 26.5 percent.
While 11 percent of Arkansas’s graduating seniors scored a three or higher, 15.9 percent did nationally. Arkansas Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell said he expects that gap to narrow in coming years, as evidenced by the fact that while the state experienced an increase of 2.8 percent in test takers, there was an increase of 4 percent in those who scored a three or higher. Another positive sign in that direction: The number of low-income students who took at least one AP exam increased by 8.1 percent in 2009, while the percentage of low-income students scoring a three or higher climbed by 8.7 percent that same year.
“In recent years, Arkansas has focused on expanding access to Advanced Placement courses and the subsequent examinations. We know through research that taking AP classes increases students’ chances of succeeding in that first year of college. Not only that, they are more likely to complete their baccalaureate degrees in four years. That translates to a cost savings to students, their parents and the state as whole,” Kimbrell said.
Through on-going professional development the state is shifting the emphasis to increasing performance as well as access, Dr. Kimbrell said. In addition, the state’s Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science program, which is operating with a $13.2 million grant through the National Math and Science Initiative, is working with participating high schools throughout the state to increase both participation and scores, especially in the areas of math, science and English.
All information from the College Board regarding the 2009 AP Report to the Nation can be found online at www.collegeboard.com.