Florida tops nation in AP exam participation at a time when exam’s value questioned

testingFlorida ranks number one in participation on Advance Placement exams during high school and comes in fourth for the percent of high school graduates who have taken and passed at least one AP course, according to a report from the organization that manages the course and its exams, The College Board.

The state’s Department of Education also noted that the report indicates the state is third in the country for improvement over the last decade.

The accolades, however, come at a time when questions are growing regarding their value. 

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that while at least 20 states now require public universities to award credit for high scores on the test, some revered institutions including Duke University and University of Pennsylvania “have scaled back or are reconsidering how much credit they give students for AP exams.”

They are asking whether top scores truly mean the student has mastered college level work?

The College Board reports that in the spring of 2016, 191,987 high school students in Florida earned scores of 3, 4 or 5 – scores high enough to earn at least three college credits for each exam.

That’s about 575,961 possible college credits, or, by the state’s calculation, a savings of more than $122 million to the students and their families who would otherwise pay an average of $212 per credit hour.

Palm Beach County School District places such value in AP courses, it expanded administration of another test, the Preliminary SAT or PSAT, in order to spot earlier students who’d do well in AP classes.

The highlights the state culled from the College Board report:

 

  • At 53 percent, Florida jumped from second to first in the nation for the percentage of 2016 graduates who took an AP exam during high school and eliminated the AP participation gap for its Hispanic students.
  • Hispanic students made up 22.1 percent of the 2016 graduating class in Florida, yet they accounted for 22.6 percent of AP Exam takers. Hispanic students made up 21.2% percent of the graduates scoring 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school.
  • African American students made up 14.6 percent of the 2016 graduating class in Florida and accounted for 9.0 percent of AP Exam takers. Black/African American students made up 4.4 percent of the graduates scoring 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school.
  • Over the last decade, the number of Florida graduates participating in AP more than doubled, increasing from 44,893 students in 2006 to 84,986 students in 2016, an increase of 89 percent.
  • At 29.5 percent, Florida’s percentage of 2016 graduates who potentially earned college credit with a score of 3 or higher exceeded the national average (21.9 percent).
  • Florida is third in the nation for improvement over the past 10 years in the percentage of graduates scoring 3 or higher during high school. Between 2006 and 2016, Florida improved by 11.0 percentage points, from 18.5 percent in 2006 to 29.5 percent in 2016

 

Florida test scores, end of course exam results due this week

cap-and-diploma-533027-mSchool may be out for summer, but final grades for most high schoolers are not. They can’t be calculated until the scores come back on Florida’s various end-of-course exams, which by law must account for 30 percent of a course grade.

The courses:  Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Biology, U.S. History and Civics.

By law, those scores (and the Florida Standards Assessment results) are supposed to be released this week – the week of June 8.

Some have expressed concern for some of the more than 12,000 students who graduated in recent weeks. Right now, their transcripts are stamped “unofficial.” Are they able to proceed to college courses this summer without a final grade?

Palm Beach State College spokeswoman Grace Truman says they can at PBSC.

“We give them an override for two semesters because they can enroll now for the fall as well,” Truman said. “We don’t wait for them to have it in hand. In the past, we’d make them wait until Summer B (the second session of summer classes), but we don’t even do that now.”

Truman said PBSC, which began summer classes May 16, counts nearly 21,000 students enrolled this summer, a four percent growth over last year. That is contrary to what she said was a statewide trend of lower enrollments.

Florida Atlantic University officials say they too are OK with graduates enrolling in summer with unofficial transcripts.

Is there a statewide policy for the institutions in the state university system? No. Each university is handling it locally. “Our feedback from the universities admissions directors is that this is not an issue – they work with the student,” a spokeswoman from the State University System of Florida said in an email Thursday morning.

Four PBC high schools among top 50 in the state

Students Sarah Toth (cq), 16, and Christina Yaunette (cq), 16, examine their class schedules after picking them up in the gym at Suncoast High School Tuesday morning, the first day of classes in Palm Beach County and the first day of classes ever for the new school. (Lannis Waters/ Palm Beach Post)
Students Sarah Toth (cq), 16, and Christina Yaunette (cq), 16, examine their class schedules after picking them up in the gym at Suncoast High School Tuesday morning, the first day of classes in Palm Beach County and the first day of classes ever for the new school. (Lannis Waters/ Palm Beach Post)

Four Palm Beach County high schools found their way into the U.S. News rankings of the best high schools in Florida.

Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach (9), Alexander W. Dreyfoos Junior School of the Arts (10), Boca Raton High School (42), and Spanish River Community High School (46) were among the top 50 schools ranked by the site. Pine View School in Osprey, Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami, International Studies Charter High School in Miami, Edgewood Jr/Sr High School in Merritt Island, and Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville rounded out the top five in the state.

The ranking considered 28,561 public high schools across the United States and was devised by U.S. News by looking at what the schools offer all of their students, not just the college-bound ones. The methodology also considers the school’s ability to help students do well academically and the schools’s graduation rate.

Both Suncoast and Dreyfoos also landed in the top 100 nationally.

Suncoast was ranked 57th nationally and earned gold status for its high marks in preparing students for college and its 99 percent a graduation rate. Dreyfoos came in at 66th nationally. It too did well in the college-preparation category and reported a 99 percent graduation rate.

Boca Raton High School was given silver status with a 51.8 percent college readiness index out of 100 and a 94 percent graduation rate while Spanish River Community High School had a 50.6 college readiness index with a 94 percent graduation rate — earning it silver status as well.

Suncoast and the Dreyfoos were also among the top schools in 2013’s rankings, taking  the 88th and 67th slots respectively.