ATLANTA — The percentage of seniors who passed at least one Advanced Placement exam in the 16 Southern Regional Education Board states in 2007 matched the national rate for the first time, a new SREB report shows.
"This is a milestone for SREB states," said Joan Lord, SREB’s vice president of Education Policies.
A new SREB policy brief, SREB States Continue to Lead the Nation in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programs, shows that 15 percent of graduating high school seniors in 2007 had passed at least one AP exam during high school. The score of 3 or higher is considered "passing" because most colleges award course credit to students who achieve the score or higher.
The report shows that SREB states continue to lead the nation in student participation in AP and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Student participation and success in these academically rigorous high school programs continues to grow across the region.
Three SREB states — Florida, Maryland and Virginia — were in the top five nationally in 2007 in the percentage of graduates who took and passed at least one AP exam in high school.
Maryland also recorded the second-greatest increase — 6 percentage points — of graduating seniors scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam from 2002 to 2007. In total, 15 SREB states increased the percentage of graduating seniors scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam since 2002.
The percentage of graduating seniors taking at least one AP exam rose by 9 percentage points from 2002 to 2007 — outpacing the national rate of increase. Every SREB state increased its participation rate over the five-year period.
SREB states also continue to lead the nation in access and success of Hispanic students in AP courses. The rate of participation of Hispanic students in AP courses in most SREB states now equals or exceeds the proportion of Hispanic students in the overall student population of high school graduates.
The percentage of Hispanic students who scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam increased in most SREB states from 2002 to 2007. In fact, 12 SREB states closed the gap between the percentage of Hispanic students in the overall high school graduate population and the percentage of those students who passed at least one AP exam.
Many SREB states also increased the participation and performance rates of black students in AP classes from 2002 to 2007. In fact, the percentage of black graduating seniors scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam in the SREB region is twice the national rate.
In addition, the number of IB schools continues to grow throughout the SREB region and the nation. In 2007, 502 U.S. high schools offered the IB curriculum, an increase of 19 percent since 2005. Of these schools, 44 percent — 221 total schools — were in SREB states.
SREB's Challenge to Lead Goals for Education, adopted in 2002, call for all high school students to have solid academic preparation for college and careers. SREB endorses AP and IB as a way to provide challenging, engaging course work. The goals call for all SREB states to have AP and IB enrollment and passing rates that exceed national averages.
The report calls for open access to AP and/or IB courses to every student in every school and for extra support for students from underrepresented groups in these courses. States also can use state virtual schools to increase access to AP/IB courses and pay testing fees for students from low-income families.
Training more teachers who can effectively teach these courses and bonuses for teachers and schools also may help states improve AP and IB access and passing rates.
SOURCE: SREB press release