For Immediate Release - February 09, 2011

Massachusetts Students Increase Performance and Participation on AP Exams

MALDEN - The Patrick-Murray Administration and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today announced new national results from the College Board showing overall gains in participation and performance by Massachusetts students on the 2010 AP exams. The results also show the continued existence of achievement gaps between students, underscoring the need to close these gaps, which Governor Patrick has named as a top priority of the second Patrick-Murray term.

The results released today showed that 23.1 percent of the class of 2010 (14,122 out of 61,220 students) scored a 3 or higher - a solid indicator of potential success in college - on at least one exam during high school, up from one year ago (+1.0), five years ago (+4.2), and ten years ago (+8.5). Massachusetts students in the class of 2010 outpaced the national average (16.9 percent of seniors scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam) and came in just behind the top performing states of Maryland (26.4 percent), New York (24.6 percent), Virginia (23.7 percent), and Connecticut (23.2 percent).



"I am pleased with today's results that demonstrate our progress in boosting student participation and performance on the AP exams," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Now we must increase our efforts to help more students enroll in these rigorous college preparatory courses and reach higher levels of attainment."



"We are committed to continuing to expand access to high quality educational programs," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "The AP exam is a key indicator of a student's future success, and these results reflect the hard work of students and educators across Massachusetts."



Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray also renewed the state's commitment to closing achievement gaps between students as one of the administration's top priorities in 2011. The focus includes continued strong investments in education, implementing the provisions of the Achievement Gap Act of 2010 to turn around underperforming schools and promote innovation, increasing school choice, and working with districts to enact the education reform strategies outlined in the state's nation-leading Race to the Top proposal.



Statewide, 33.2 percent of students in the class of 2010 took at least one AP exam in high school, up from 30.9 percent in 2009, 26.3 percent in 2006, and 20.4 percent in 2001.



Amongst minority students, the percent of graduating seniors in 2010 who took at least one AP exam in high school increased across the board. A total of 22.8 percent of African American students took at least one AP exam in 2010, up from 18.3 percent in 2009; 21.7 percent of Hispanic/Latino students took at least one exam in 2010, up from 19.6 percent in 2009; 67.8 percent of Asian students took at least one exam in 2010, up from 64.8 percent in 2009; and 32.3 percent of white students took at least one AP exam in 2010, up from 30.2 percent in 2009.



"While participation rates are rising, it is very important that we increase the numbers of low income and minority students prepared for college level coursework including AP courses," said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "Through Race to the Top, we will conduct pre-AP training to teams of middle and high school teachers over the next three years. This work will strengthen teachers' content knowledge and pedagogical skills and improve the rigor and vertical alignment of middle and high school curriculum in English language arts, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering."



Twenty school districts have signed on to the pre-AP training program in 2011 and will enroll over 400 teachers in professional development this summer. An additional 40 districts will begin the pre-AP training program next year. By the end of 2014, over 1,000 teachers statewide will have received three years of pre-AP professional development.



The percent of students in the class of 2010 who took at least one AP Exam and scored a 3 or higher on at least one exam was: 32.7 percent for African-American students (343 of 1,049 students); 49.4 percent for Hispanic/Latino students (694 of 1,405 students), 74.6 percent for Asian students (1,408 of 1,887 students), and 73.6 percent for white students (10,670 of 14,489 students).



"We are pleased to see more students taking exams and earning high scores on these valuable AP exams," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Our focus now must be on accelerating efforts to ensure all students are prepared for more challenging coursework that will propel them to success in higher education and the workforce."



Other Massachusetts results include:





  • 20,352 students in the class of 2010 took at least one AP exam. The ten most popular exams were: U.S. History (6,568 exams), English Literature and Composition (6,414), Calculus AB (5,525), Biology (4,684), English Language and Composition (3,834), Psychology (3,793), Statistics (3,044), Chemistry (2,510), Spanish Language (2,029), and European History (1,966).



  • Of students that participated in each exam, 66.8% of Massachusetts students scored 3 or higher on AP Computer Science A, 65.4% scored 3 or higher on AP Statistics, 63.2 percent scored 3 or higher on AP Chemistry, and 62.1 percent scored 3 or higher on AP Calculus AB.



  • Among states with 25 or more test takers, Massachusetts had the highest percentage of students scoring 3 or higher on the AP U.S. History exam (70.8 percent). The national average was 50 percent. Massachusetts also led the nation with the highest mean score on the AP U.S. History exam (3.3).




One statewide initiative that has demonstrated success in expanding minority access to AP classes and exams is the Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative (MMSI). Massachusetts, in partnership with the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute, received a grant from the National Math and Science Initiative to increase student enrollment in mathematics, science and English AP courses and performance on the accompanying AP Exams.



In 2010, the 21 high schools currently running the MMSI program saw a 45 percent increase (1,406 to 2,044) in the number of qualifying scores (3 or higher) on AP exams in English, Mathematics, and Science. The first group of schools had a 103 percent increase (86 of 175) in qualifying scores (3 or higher) for African American and Hispanic students from 2008 to 2010 and a 94 percent increase (142 to 275) in qualifying scores for females in Mathematics and Science courses.



The high schools involved in the program in 2010 included for Cohort I (2009-2010): Chelsea, Revere, Malden, O'Bryant in Boston, Marlborough, North in Worcester, Northampton, and Central and Renaissance in Springfield. For Cohort II (2010), the high schools involved were: Methuen, Lawrence MST, Peabody, Winthrop, MATCH Charter, Dedham, Randolph, Attleboro, B.M.C Durfee (Fall River), South in Worcester, Easthampton, and Science & Tech in Springfield.



AP is a rigorous academic program that offers more than 30 courses in a wide range of subjects and college-level assessments developed and scored by college and university faculty members and experienced AP teachers. According to the College Board, a score of 3 or higher on an AP exam represents the score point that is predictive of college success and college graduation.