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NEWS RELEASES 2005-06 :: FEBRUARY 7, 2006


North Carolina is one of five states with the greatest improvement in the proportion of students who succeed on at least one Advanced Placement exam in high school, according to the College Board's Advanced Placement Report to the Nation released today. North Carolina had a 5.8 percent increase in the percentage of students scoring 3 or higher on an AP exam during their high school years.

A total of 34,204 North Carolina public school students took AP exams in 2005, a 13 percent increase in the number of students participating. The percentage of exams receiving a score of 3 or greater also increased by 12.3 percent moving from 29,634 in 2004 to 33,797 in 2005.

Access to AP courses has spread much more quickly over the past five years. This expansion has been fueled by increased public interest and federal Advanced Placement Incentive Grants that have provided assistance with AP exam fees for low-income students and professional development designed to help prepare teachers to teacher AP courses and to better identify students with AP potential.

Since 2000, the number of AP exams taken by North Carolina public school students has grown by 29,569. By way of contrast, the number of AP exams taken by North Carolina public school students from 1995 to 2000 grew by 9,832. In addition to access increasing, the number of AP exams receiving a grade of 3 or higher by North Carolina public school students has grown by 15,262. Between 1995 and 2000, that number grew by only 6,506.

Of special importance is the fact that low-income students, African American students, and Hispanic students are increasing their participation in these rigorous course significantly. Since 2000, the number of AP exams taken by low-income North Carolina public school students has grown by 2,553. Between 1995 and 2000, by comparison, the number of AP exams taken by low-income students decreased by 47.

The number of AP exams taken by African American students has grown by 4,134 since 2000, a much faster rate than the increase between 1995 and 2000 which was 599.

For Hispanic students, the number of AP exams taken between 2000 and 2005, has grown by 1,226. From 1995 to 2000, the number of exams taken by this group increased by 232.

Access to AP courses is important as an indicator of future college success. Students who take these college-level courses are more likely to complete their bachelor's degree in four years or less. According to The College Board's statistics, 45 percent of students who have taken one AP course and 61 percent of students who have taken two or more AP courses complete their bachelor's degrees in four years or less. In comparison, 29 percent of students who enroll in colleges without having taken AP courses are completing their bachelor's degrees on schedule.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, "Today's news is very positive for North Carolina students and their families. It shows that more of our young people are reaching for the most rigorous coursework and succeeding."

State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee noted that this type of performance is what Board members would like to see for even more North Carolina students. "We have been looking carefully at new ways to increase the rigor of the high school curriculum for every student. The College Board's report demonstrates that specific, targeted efforts pay off in student performance."

The 2006 AP report listed schools from across the nation that have achieved strong success in helping a larger proportion of their total school population succeed on a particular AP exam than any other school in the world. Four North Carolina schools were included in this list: Cape Fear Academy – AP English Literature and Composition and AP Government and Politics: United States; Early College at Guilford – AP Environmental Science and AP World History; East Chapel Hill High School – AP Environmental Science; Raleigh Charter High School – AP Environmental Science.

Advanced Placement courses are college-level courses offered in 35 subject areas and assessed through the annual AP exams. These exams are graded on a scale of 1-5, which a 5 being the highest score. Most colleges and universities in the United States and in North Carolina use AP exam results in their admissions process and may give college credit to students earning grades of 3, 4 or 5 at their discretion. AP exams, with the exception of AP Studio Art, which is a portfolio assessment, consist of dozens of multiple choice questions and free-response questions.

For more information, please contact the NC Department of Public Instruction's Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.