The AP Program has steadily expanded across the US over the past decade, resulting in participation from a larger and increasingly diverse group of students. The recently-released 2019 AP Report from the College Board shows that back in 2009, 17,374 schools participated in the AP program, compared to 22,678 schools in 2019. The number of US public high school graduates who took an AP exam during high school has increased 57 percent in ten years: From the class of 2009, 793,300 students took at least one AP exam, compared to 1.2 million US public high school graduates in the class of 2019.
During this same ten-year period, the number of students who scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam increased by 60 percent. In the class of 2019, 764,702 of those graduates who took an AP exam scored a 3 or higher, up from 477,883 in the class of 2009. It helps that the number of states offering opportunities to earn college credit from AP exams has more than doubled in the past five years, from 14 states in 2014 to 31 states in 2019.
Check These State-Specific Stats
Looking back at the most recent school year, over 1.24 million students in the class of 2019 took 4.26 million AP exams in public high schools nationwide. An average of 23.9 percent of students in the class of 2019 scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school. Massachusetts took the national lead again, for the fourth year in a row, with 33.8 percent of its public high school graduates from the class of 2019 scoring 3 or higher on at least one AP exam. The state also holds the record for the largest 10-year increase in performance on the AP exams, gaining 13 percentage points since 2009. The District of Columbia had the largest three- and five-year increases in percentage points, while Illinois had the largest one-year increase.
From the class of 2019, the top ten states with the highest percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam were:
- Massachusetts: 33.8%
- Connecticut: 32.5%
- Florida: 32.3%
- California: 32.1%
- Maryland: 31.5%
- New Jersey: 29.6%
- Colorado: 29.2%
- New York: 29.0%
- Virginia: 28.8%
- Illinois: 28.4%
Big gains for AP Computer Science
As more students are being encouraged to pursue STEM careers, the AP Program's computer science courses are growing in popularity.
When AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) launched in 2016, it was the biggest course launch in AP history. Three years later, participation in AP CSP had more than doubled, with nearly 100,000 students taking an AP CSP Exam from the class of 2019. According to the report, the participation data for AP Computer Science revealed an encouraging trend in underrepresented students. The growth in participation in AP Computer Science (CSP and CSA) by girls and minority students outpaces overall growth since 2016:
- African American students: +343%
- Hispanic students: +315%
- Female students: +257%
- Rural US students: +287%
AP Program Encouraging Civic Engagement
The AP with WE Service program combines classroom learning with service-oriented activities in the student's community to teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities, using classroom lessons to tackle real-life social issues. Since 2017, over 10,000 students have participated in AP with WE Service. The report found that:
- 79 percent of students said AP with WE Service strengthened their sense of responsibility;
- 71 percent of students said AP with WE Service deepened their understanding of AP course content;
- 78 percent of students said AP with WE Service developed or improved their leadership skills.
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