RI Lags on AP Testing

Feb 11, 2014

More Rhode Island students are taking Advanced Placement tests, but they are not passing at the same rates as their peers around the country.

The College Board has just released its annual report on AP testing. The study shows that nearly 2,500 members of Rhode Island’s class of 2013 took an AP exam, up from roughly 1,000 in 2003. The number represents more than a quarter of all high school graduates.

But as the number of test takers has increased, the percentage of students passing the exams has fallen.

Just 14.6 percent of last year’s senior class earned a three or better, below the national average of 20 percent. Rhode Island ranks in the bottom 10 for school systems nationwide, on par with Alaska and just slightly better than the District of Columbia.

Elsewhere in New England, 28.8 percent of Connecticut students passed at least one AP exam, the second highest rate in the country. Massachusetts ranked in the top five, with 27.9 percent of students passing. Vermont and Maine also ranked above the national average.

The study also reveals significant disparities for black and Hispanic students taking AP exams in Rhode Island. Far fewer minority students take the tests, although participation has increased, especially among Hispanic students, and far fewer minority students earn at least a three.

In the class of 2013, just two percent of black students and 10 percent of Hispanic students earned a three or better, compared with nearly 80 percent of white students.

Nearly 70 percent of white students took an AP test, down from more than 80 percent in 2003.