Monday, April 20, 2015

Advanced Placement Testing: What a Difference One Year Makes

In alignment with our School Improvement Plan, I have spent the past two-years analyzing and studying our Advanced Placement data, specifically the low-participation of Advanced Placement testing compared to the high-participation of AP course enrollment.

The North Carolina General Assembly provided all North Carolina high school students an immense opportunity for 2014-2015 by covering all testing fees. (Related blog post from October: Advanced Placement Test Participation and Opportunity in North Carolina)

At Ashbrook High School, we utilized alumni, teachers, guidance counselors, and parents to share the vast benefits of taking and succeeded on Advanced Placement exams during Parent-Teacher Conferences throughout the school-year.

Students also got involved in the process, such as Ashbrook Wavelengths' "AP Exam Feature: Part I".

My informal study from last spring discovered cost was not the primary factor for our low test-participation; the two primary reasons students had not taken the AP test: a) "I never intended to take the AP test when I began the course." and b) "I did not feel adequately prepared for the AP test."

Therefore, we realized we needed to alter the mindset of all stakeholders, raising the expectations instructionally, educating parents, surveying students, and improving student preparedness.  These action-items actually do not appropriately portray the collective efforts in to increase our AP test participation; simply put, we all worked together.

Check out the difference between this school year and last:


477 students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses

04.2% registered and completed an Advanced Placement Exam


512 students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses

49.2% registered for Advanced Placement Exams

It's important to note for Advanced Placement course "enrollment", one single student can count numerous times.  This enrollment number indicates the total volume of students in AP courses.  Therefore, if one student has six AP courses, they actually represent an enrollment of six "students".

Without releasing specific numbers, the amount of students taking an AP Exam increased by eight times and the total number of tests increased by 10 times.  It's safe to assume AP Exam participation will increase at all high schools across North Carolina, primarily due to the General Assembly's financial contribution.

Yet, we cannot overlook the one-year transformation for our students at Ashbrook High School.  That being said, we had a 60% pass-rate (students earning a Level 3, 4, or 5) on last year's Advanced Placements exams.

We'll see if our performance matches our increased participation.


Thank you for reading,


The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.

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