More Tennessee students are taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) tests as part of statewide effort to expand the availability of the rigorous courses, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
In Knox County, for example, one teacher went from giving 59 AP exams in four subject areas in 2012 to administering 214 exams during the 2016-17 school year.
In 2013, the state General Assembly created the initiative, which trains teachers to teach the higher-level courses and pays for students to take the exams.
Once considered an option only for only the highest-achieving students, states and districts across the country have worked to expand students’ access to AP courses, which can give them a head start on receiving college credit.
Data released by the College Board earlier this year shows that participation and passing rates nationally continue to increase. The number of public high school students taking an AP exam has increased from 645,000 in 2006 to 1.1 million students in 2016. Also, over that 10-year period, the percentage of students earning at least a 3 on one AP exam has increased from 14.3% to 21.9% of all high school graduates.
The College Board’s District Leadership Playbook outlines strategies for recruiting more students of color into the courses, such as clearly communicating with high school principals their intentions to increase the representation of African-American and Hispanic students in AP courses and giving school leaders data on students who are likely to pass an AP exam.
In recent years, some officials have questioned the investment in providing AP courses. Even an elite private school in Connecticut opted this year to stop offering the courses, but will still offer the exams for students who want to take them.