A low pass rate on A.P. exams
Amid the onslaught of statistics in the high schools presentation scheduled for tonight's city school board meeting, one that stood out to me was the pass rate on Advanced Placement exams.
The number of city high schools offering A.P. classes has increased: from eight in 2005 to 15 in 2008. Enrollment in A.P. classes was 1,305 last school year. There were 1,183 A.P. tests administered. Only 288 of those exams -- less than a quarter -- came back with a passing score of 3 or higher, potentially earning the test-taker college credit.
The College Board, which administers the A.P. program, has worked hard to expand access to A.P. classes in urban environments. I understand the importance of exposing students to challenging material, even if it might be over their heads. You never know who will rise to the challenge. But I have a hard time understanding why the exam pass rate is so low. I'd think that a school like Poly alone could produce more than 288 passing A.P. scores. (City College, btw, offers many of its top-performing students International Baccalaureate exams instead of, or sometimes in addition to, A.P.)
Clearly, expanding access to A.P. courses isn't enough. Students need a lot more support once they get there to be successful.