The College Board’s 2014 Advanced Placement (AP) Report to the Nation showed some encouraging signs for Oklahoma.
Among its findings, I was pleased to see that in May of last year, Oklahoma high school students achieved a score of 3 or higher on more than 13,000 AP exams. If each of these scores resulted in three college credits earned at state universities, students and their families stood to save almost $9 million in tuition.
The best result, however is that students taking an AP course and its subsequent exam are better prepared for college and career. They need less remediation, typically earn higher grade-point averages in college and are more likely to graduate from college.
AP works because it is truly a collaboration between pre-k-12, and higher education and future employers.
In Oklahoma, for example, we are thrilled with the commitment of our partners, including the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), private-sector firms such as Northrop Grumman and Boeing, and community-based organizations that are working to grow the number of Oklahoma schools participating in AP incentive programs. These programs, which reward students and teachers, are seeing phenomenal results in the ranks of students taking AP courses and scoring high on AP exams. In many cases, this translates into earned college credit, that, in turn, saves students thousands of dollars.
The programs also are attracting more minority students, subsequently helping to close learning gaps that exist between these students and their peers.
In 2013, for instance, the equity gap all but closed for Hispanic students taking AP exams. Oklahoma also has the highest percentage of AP exam takers who are Native American and the highest percentage of AP exam takers scoring a 3 or higher who are Native American.
Oklahoma State Department of Education staff will examine our state results on the College Board report to find areas where we can encourage a broader selection of AP coursework in our schools and increased student participation. We particularly need to reach those young people who show they have the potential to do well in AP but have not yet benefitted from this college- and career-preparatory coursework.
Already through our partnership with College Board, we have increased the number of free professional development opportunities for teachers interested in taking pre-AP and AP training.
We will continue seeking new ways to fund AP programs. Thankfully, Gov. Fallin proposed increased funding for K-12 education, and lawmakers have demonstrated considerable support for AP. We are hopeful that a portion of any new dollars can go toward these tremendous partnership programs.
With our comprehensive efforts, we believe Oklahoma’s future AP results will be truly incredible.