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MoCo Students Set Record For AP Exams

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students took more than 33,000 Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2013—an all-time high—and 73 percent of those exams earned a college-ready score of 3 or higher.

MCPS students took a total of 33,642 AP exams in 2013, a 2 percent increase compared with last year. The percentage of MCPS AP exams earning a college-ready score (73 percent) is considerably higher than the percentage in the state of Maryland (60.4 percent) and the nation (57 percent). In MCPS, the percentage of exams earning a college-ready score is down two percentage points from 2012, but is up nearly two points from 2011.

Our commitment to providing all MCPS students access to high-quality, rigorous classes like Advanced Placement makes a difference in getting them ready for success in college and careers. We must continue to strive not only to increase access to these classes, but also make sure all students are ready to succeed,” said Christopher S. Barclay, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Over the past several years, MCPS has made a concerted effort to give more students access to challenging classes, such as AP. Since 2008, the number of AP exams taken by MCPS students has grown 30 percent, while the percentage of exams earning a college-ready score has increased from 70.6 percent in 2008 to 73 percent in 2013.

AP participation among African American and Hispanic MCPS students continues to grow, and these students significantly outperform their peers across the state and the nation. In 2013, 3,297 exams were taken by African American MCPS students and 47 percent received a college-ready score, considerably higher than the percentage in Maryland (31.1 percent) and the nation (28.2 percent).

Hispanic MCPS students also have shown dramatic growth in AP participation and performance. There were 4,253 exams taken by Hispanic students in 2013 and 56 percent received a college-ready score, also considerably higher than the state (51.2 percent) and the nation (41 percent).

Since 2008, AP participation has grown dramatically for MCPS students who are African American (up 31.4 percent) and Hispanic (up 78.7 percent) and, in that time, the percentage of exams earning a college-ready score is virtually unchanged.

I am very pleased that our students continue to perform at a high level on these exams and outperform their peers across the state and the nation. However, the data shows us there are still significant gaps in performance that must be addressed if we are going to successfully prepare our students to thrive in their futures,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr.

The performance of MCPS students on AP exams has had a significant impact on Maryland’s outstanding AP participation and performance. The district represents only 17 percent of the state’s total public school enrollment, yet MCPS students account for 31.1 percent of all the AP exams taken in Maryland and 37.6 percent of the state’s AP exams that received a college-ready score.

In the coming years, AP courses and exams will be changing dramatically to put a greater emphasis on critical thinking, reasoning and communication skills. The exams will be more rigorous and will require students to demonstrate their understanding of concepts in multiple ways.

“The changes in AP exams will require us to shift the way we deliver instruction in these classes and throughout a child’s education,” Dr. Starr said. “We are implementing these changes, but will need to continue to invest in professional development for teachers and additional support for students if we are to continue to see this level of success on AP and other rigorous courses.”

Among the highlights of AP performance in MCPS high schools:

– Fifteen of 25 MCPS high schools saw an increase from 2012 in the number of AP exams taken, with the largest increases at Quince Orchard (+325 exams), Clarksburg (+257), Paint Branch (+104), Springbrook (+104) and Albert Einstein (+90)

– Three MCPS high schools—Watkins Mill, Walter Johnson and Poolesville—saw increases in both the number of exams taken and the percentage of those exams earning a college-ready score

– Between 2012 and 2013, 18 of the 25 MCPS high schools showed an increase in the number of AP exams taken by Hispanic students, and 14 high schools showed an increase in the number of AP exams taken by African American students

– Nine MCPS high schools saw an increase from 2012 in the percentage of exams taken by Hispanic students that scored a 3 or higher, with the largest increases at Col. Zadok Magruder (+12.7 percentage points), John F. Kennedy (+8.2 points), Damascus (+6.9 points), and Whitman (+2.7 points)

– Seven MCPS high schools—Col. Zadok Magruder, Damascus, Paint Branch, Walt Whitman, Northwood, Thomas S. Wootton, and Watkins Mill—saw increases in the number of exams taken by Hispanic students and the percentage of those exams earning a college-ready score

– Eight MCPS high schools saw an increase from 2012 in the percentage of exams taken by African American students that scored a 3 or higher, with the largest increases at Damascus (+16 percentage points), Wheaton (+8.5 points), Col. Zadok Magruder (+8.1 points), and Poolesville (+6.5 points)

– Three MCPS high schools—Wheaton, Poolesville and Sherwood—saw increases in the number of exams taken by African American students and the percentage of those exams earning a college-ready score

Report on MCPS AP Participation and Performance

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