Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hispanic Students Make Strides on AP Exams, College Board Reports

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hispanic Students Make Strides on AP Exams, College Board Reports

Article excerpt

The number of Hispanic students taking AP exams has increased dramatically, the College Board says. Hispanic students are a bigger percentage of those passing the exams than ever before.

Hispanic high school students in the US now make up a greater share of those achieving a passing score on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam than at any other point in the past decade, according to a report released Wednesday by the national College Board.

According to the College Board's annual report, the "AP Report to the Nation," 14.6 percent of US high school seniors who passed an AP exam in 2010 were Hispanic, an increase of 2.6 percent since 2001. The rise follows an effort by the College Board to recruit more minority students to take the demanding tests.

AP exams measure college-level competency in a wide range of subjects, from English and calculus to Spanish and US history, which test takers have usually studied in AP courses taught according to a standardized curriculum. The exams are graded on a 5-point scale and may confer college credit if a student passes with a score of 3 or higher.

Top 10 benefits of a college degree

The increased representation among successful AP test takers by Hispanic students coincides with an even larger increase in their representation in the nation's high school population. There were 5.2 percent more Hispanic students in the graduating high school class of 2010 than in the class of 2001, according to the College Board.

While the overall number of AP test takers has nearly doubled since 2001, the College Board says, the number of Hispanic AP test takers has nearly tripled, increasing from 48,354 in 2001 to 136,717 in 2010. The number of passing Hispanic test takers grew from 33,479 to 74,479 over that period.

The news that more Hispanic students are taking and passing the AP exam comes at a time when 41 percent of the Hispanic population in the US above the age of 20 does not have a regular high school diploma, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

'More work needs to be done'

The overall percentage of American high school students who passed an AP test increased modestly between 2009 and 2010, rising from 16 to 16.9 percent.

Despite their progress, Hispanic students were still somewhat underrepresented among those who passed an AP test last year. While Hispanic students were 14.6 percent of those who passed an AP test, they made up 16 percent of AP test takers overall and 16.8 percent of the graduating high school class of 2010. Some 54.5 percent of all Hispanic test takers passed at least one AP test, compared with 59.6 percent of all students and 61.8 percent of white students.

That's why Sue Landers, executive director of the AP program for the College Board, says more work needs to be done to improve minority test performance. "We would really like to see the diversity of our country reflected in our AP classrooms and in the demographics of students who succeed on the AP test," she says in an interview. …

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