Oklahoma’s ranking of 37 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia on an AP report released recently by The College Board brought a call from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi to widen the selection of AP courses available in Oklahoma schools and to work to continue to improve test scores.
Of the Oklahoma senior class of 2011, 10.7 percent of students scored a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam during high school. According to the AP report, the national percentage of high school students scoring a 3 or higher (considered successful) is 18.1 percent. Maryland, with 27.9 percent of students scoring 3 or above, ranked first in this category. Mississippi, with 4.5 percent, was last.
“Advanced Placement courses are valuable for their rigor and in preparing students for the critical thinking and problem solving skills they will need to succeed in college courses,” Barresi said. “This report shows that we must get more of our students from all ethnicities to take these classes, and we must continue the push to help them perform well on these tests.”
Barresi said increasing the number of AP courses available in Oklahoma schools and increasing participation in the courses is a key plank in her C3 Plan – making sure each student in the state is college, career and citizen ready by 2020.
This school year, there are 36,043 students enrolled in AP courses in all Oklahoma public schools, including charter schools. The number does not include Career Tech centers.
The percentage of Oklahoma students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school has risen in the past 10 years by 6.2 percent, according to the AP report.
A breakdown of scores shows that 7.4 percent of students tested scored a 5, the highest score; 14.6 percent scored a 4; 24.8 percent scored a 3; 27.2 percent scored a 2; and 26 percent scored a 1.
The report says the numbers of traditionally underserved students participating and succeeding in AP courses and exams are increasing. However, underserved minority and low-income students remain underrepresented.
Among minority students in Oklahoma, black students made up 3.3 percent of the graduating class of 2011 who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam (putting the state at 24th in the nation for this statistic); 7.3 percent of Hispanic students scored a 3 or higher (21st in the nation); and 7.6 percent of American Indian students scored a 3 or higher (2nd in the nation).
College Board recommends strategies for improving participation and exam scores for AP. These include supporting student engagement in STEM courses, implementing summer programs and creating networks for teachers and administrators to collaborate best practices.