Wide racial gap persists on AP exams

Minorities who graduated from a public high school in Georgia in 2013 had far less success than their white peers on Advanced Placement exams, according to a report released Monday by the College Board.

By Wayne Washington
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Minorities who graduated from a public high school in Georgia in 2013 had far less success than their white peers on Advanced Placement exams, according to a report released Monday by the College Board.

White graduates were almost five times as likely as black students, seven times as likely as Hispanic students and five times as likely as Asian-American graduates to have gotten a passing grade on an AP exam, underscoring the academic challenges that remain in making sure minority students are prepared for college.

“The achievement gap that exists in Advanced Placement mirrors the broader achievement gap across the nation,” Georgia Superintendent John Barge said. “The ‘cure’ is for teachers from elementary school on up to focus on real rigor and to use authentic assessments in classrooms that measure problem solving, critical thinking, and strong writing skills.”

Advanced Placement courses, more rigorous than other types of courses and offered in a variety of academic subjects, are capped by an exam that is scored on a 1 to 5 scale, with 3 serving as a passing score that can earn a student college credit.

Only 13.3 percent of Georgia’s black graduates in 2013 got a passing grade on an AP exam, a low pass rate that was still third-best for black graduates in the United States.

Among Hispanic graduates, 8.6 percent got a passing grade on an AP exam, while some 11.6 percent of Asian-American students got a passing grade.

White graduates had a pass rate of 62.4 percent. With minority students accounting for a big chunk of those who took the tests, which are widely viewed as important preparation for college, the state’s overall pass rate was 21.3 percent.

Despite the gap in AP performance, Barge said he is heartened by the increased participation in AP courses.

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