TEA News Releases Online
Aug. 27, 2009
Texas students show strong gains on AP exams;
minorities post double-digit score increases
AUSTIN – Texas students continued their push for excellence by posting an increasing number of scores of three, four and five on national Advanced Placement tests, the Texas Education Agency announced today.
Minority students in particular posted impressive gains of double-digit percentages in the number of students achieving a grade of three or higher over scores in 2008 according to figures from the College Board, which oversees the AP program.
Both the number of Texas students taking the AP exams and the number of tests taken increased. Overall, 158,993 students took a total of 287,756 exams. That reflects an increase of 8 percent and 6.4 percent respectively over last year. Of those students tested, there was an increase of almost 10 percent in the number scoring grades of three to five on the exams over 2008.
Of that total number tested, 149,045 were public school students who took 269,685 exams. The results show that the number of public school students scoring three or higher increased more than 9 percent over 2008.
“This is outstanding,” said Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. “The push for excellence in education in Texas continues and the AP results show that more and more of our high school students are capable of taking the rigorous courses and excelling.
"The programs which Texas has in place for improving the college readiness of our students are clearly working," Scott said.
The grading scale on the exams is one to five, with five being the highest possible score. All totaled, 125,216 tests taken in Texas public schools earned scores of three, four, or five. Universities typically award college course credit for AP scores of three or more. Many selective colleges give special consideration to AP and honors classes when making admissions decisions.
Among public school minority groups, the percent of students achieving grades of three or higher increased by double digits over scores in 2008. African-American students posted the highest gain, a 17.3 percent increase in the number of students attaining scores of 3, 4 or 5, while Hispanic students had a 16 percent increase over the number of students scoring three or higher in 2008. Asian-American students showed a 11.4 percent increase and scores for American Indian students jumped 16.5 percent.
The number of minority students in public schools taking the tests also increased with 11.4 percent more African-American students over 2008 and almost 14 percent more Hispanic students. Almost 11 percent more Asian-American students took the tests in 2009 over 2008, while among American Indian students, almost 13 percent more students took AP exams.
“I am pleased to see that more of our minority students are taking advantage of the opportunity to take the AP exams and that their performance is increasing. Over the last few years, the schools have pushed for more students to achieve college readiness, particularly among the African-American and Hispanic groups,” Scott said. "These results show that Texas is narrowing the achievement gap."
Among white public school students the 2009 gains were smaller when compared with minority students with only 5.7 percent of students increasing their scores over 2008. White students taking the tests increased by 1.3 percent with only two-tenths of a percent increase in the number of tests taken.
High school students who make high scores on AP exams can earn college credit for courses, saving their families thousands of dollars in tuition costs and giving students a head start on a college education.
To support and recognize AP classes, the Texas AP/IB Incentives program awards campuses up to $100 for each student earning a score of three or higher on an Advanced Placement exam. State funds are also available to provide training to teachers and to help reduce the cost of the exams for all students.