Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Big Gain in Students' Test Results in Duval; Advanced Placement Rate Represents Biggest One-Year Jump in More Than a Decade

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Big Gain in Students' Test Results in Duval; Advanced Placement Rate Represents Biggest One-Year Jump in More Than a Decade

Article excerpt

Byline: Denise Smith Amos

Duval students' performance on Advanced Placement tests improved last year, with 37 percent of those taking the tests passing.

That represents the biggest one-year gain in successful AP tests in more than a decade, Duval officials said Wednesday.

The scores also mean more students will likely earn college credit for work they did in high school and more parents will save money on college costs.

Contributing to Duval's higher passing rate is a 25 percent decline in the number of students taking the tests and a 16 percent decline in the number of tests taken.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Wednesday that those declines were deliberate. The district is doing a better job, he said, of placing its advanced students in the most appropriate classes.

"We have been successful in increasing access to courses that prepare students for college or the workforce [while] strategically ensuring that we are placing them on a pathway where they can be most successful," he said.

That means more students are taking other early college courses instead of AP, such as International Baccalaureate or Advanced International Certificate of Education courses. Those courses, like AP, can result in early college credit.

Duval, like many Florida school districts, has over the years dramatically increased the numbers of students taking AP tests and exams, but it has struggled to bring most of those test scores to passing levels.

AP tests have five possible points; a 3 or better is considered passing. Colleges often award course credit to students who pass AP exams, and it's common for students to take multiple AP courses in a year.

Over the past decade, Duval's AP testing record was spotty. The rate of passed exams fluctuated from a low of 23.6 percent to a high of 49.5 percent, and the number of students taking tests grew from 3,768 to 12,319.

But last year, only 9,002 Duval students took AP tests, down from 11,934 test-takers the year before.

They took a total of 18,012 tests - or about two tests per student - and passed 6,674 of them. That is 441 more passing grades than the year before, when students passed only 29 percent of AP exams. …

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