Fewer PGCPS Students Passed AP Exams in 2015

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Earlier this year, we ran a story noting the six-year upward trend in Advanced Placement (AP) exam participation among students in Prince George’s County Schools. Between 2008 and 2014, participation in the AP program grew, while passing rates held steady. (Scores of three or higher, out of a possible five points, are considered passing.)

But according to numbers released on the 2015 Maryland Report Card, both the number of exams taken and the overall passing rate have declined slightly this year. Mathematics exams saw the biggest drop with a passing rate of 15.8% and 109 out of 692 exams receiving a passing score in 2015, compared with last year’s passing rate  of 19.1%, with 161 successful exams out of a total of 841 exams taken.

2008 2014 2015
AP Subject Description Exams with Scores 3-5/ Exams Taken
(%Exams w/ Scores 3-5)
Exams with Scores 3-5/ Exams Taken
(%Exams w/ Scores 3-5)
Exams with Scores 3-5/ Exams Taken
(%Exams w/ Scores 3-5)
All Subjects 2150/7829 (27.5%) 2606/9660 (27%) 2443/9452 (25.8%)
All Fine Arts 55/120 (45.8%) 130/267 (48.7%) 95/267 (35.6%)
All English Language Arts 593/2313 (25.6%) 623/2737 (22.8%) 625/2684 (23.3%)
All Foreign Language 191/301 (63.5%) 227/308  (73.7%) 183/251 (72.9%)
All Mathematics 180/753 (23.9%) 161/841  (19.1%) 109/692 (15.8%)
All Science 682/2341 (29.1%) 775/2791 (27.8%) 778/2616 (29.7%)
All Social Studies 449/2001 (22.4%) 690/2716 (25.4%) 618/2880 (21.5%)

Source: Maryland Report Card

These numbers don’t look good, but it’s not all bad news. Let’s take a closer look at the data and put the numbers in context:

AP Exam Participation Increases, 40% of All Passing Exams Are from Eleanor Roosevelt HS

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Over a six year period, Prince George’s County has made small but significant gains in performance on Advanced Placement exams. The percentage of AP exams receiving a score of 3, 4, or 5 in 2014 is virtually identical to what it was in 2008 and slightly higher than it was in 2013: 27.5% in 2008, 26.3% in 2013, 27% in 2014. However, over the same time period, the percentage of 9th-12th grade students taking an AP exam has steadily increased from 11.4% in 2008 to 16.8% in 2014. This represents a 47% increase in the participation rate and a 25% increase in the raw number of students taking AP exams. This is certainly good news for the county: a comparable passing rate with a much larger percentage of participating students.

The percentage of exams receiving a score of 3, 4, or 5 (usually considered to be passing scores) is still much lower than national and state averages. By a large margin, the passing rate for AP Foreign Language exams (73.7% in 2014) exceeded that of all other subject categories.

Of the 23 high schools in the county sytem, only Eleanor Roosevelt High School’s AP exam passing rate (63.3%) equaled or exceeded the Maryland state average (61%). Eleanor Roosevelt HS accounts for 40% of all exams in PGCPS receiving a grade of 3, 4, or 5.

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