By Dr. Don Coberly, Superintendent, Boise School District:
In 2014, 9,556 Advanced Placement exams were taken by 5443 Idaho students (about 13% of Idaho’s juniors and seniors). Idaho’s exam numbers had been increasing for the past few years, but in 2014 decreased slightly.
The percentage of exams scored “3” or above, an indicator of eligibility for college credit or waiver, stood at 66% in 2014, down slightly from the 69% “pass rate” of 2009. The national “pass rate” on these rigorous exams in 2014 was 59%.
Advanced Placement is the “gold standard” of post-secondary dual credit programs because of the rigorous nature of its exams, offered in 34 subject areas, and because AP scores are accepted for credit by the vast majority of colleges around the country. The most popular exams in Idaho in 2014 were English Language and Composition (1867), English Literature and Composition (1148), U.S. History (1120), and Calculus AB (912).
Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Idaho students taking AP exams were from the Boise District, which has 9% of statewide enrollment.
Sixty-one Idaho school districts, over half the statewide total, gave no Advanced Placement exams in 2014. Only 15 districts gave over 100 exams. Boise gave 3234 exams, about 35% of the statewide total.
Since most Idaho districts are relatively small, a good way to look at commitment to rigor in Idaho districts is to compare the number of students participating in at least one AP test with the total number of juniors and seniors in the district. To account for extremely small numbers , we used just districts which gave 50 or more exams in 2014.
Blaine County, Boise, McCall, and Vallivue each had over 30% of juniors and seniors take at least one Advanced Placement exam. Vallivue is particularly notable in that they have made a substantial commitment to rigor in the past decade, implementing new AP courses, expanding opportunities, and initiating the AVID program.
Finally, many districts nationwide have expanded opportunities for students to take Advanced Placement coursework and exams. As indicated, passing percentages have declined slightly in Idaho, as more students have experienced the rigor of coursework and exams
The Madison School District (Rexburg) had an amazing 96% pass rate on 111 AP exams in 2014. However, only 11% of Madison juniors and seniors took an AP exam, compared with Blaine County, where 47% of juniors and seniors took at least one AP exam.
For more, please visit Dr. Coberly’s blog Data Points.