WASHINGTON – When it comes to Advanced Placement exams, Maryland students are making the grade.
Although national rankings and data will not be available until February 2010, several Maryland counties have broken their own records for participation in the courses that can give high school students college credit.
Advanced Placement tests, administered by the College Board, are offered in more than 30 different subjects, including math, history, language, and science. More than 90 percent of colleges across the country offer college credit to students who received an exam score of at least three on a five-point scale, depending on the school’s criteria.
In 2009, students from more than 17,000 high schools worldwide took AP exams, according to the College Board.
Maryland placed first in AP test performance in 2008, the College Board reported. New York previously held that record, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.
In Howard County, 83 percent of all exams taken by 3,758 public school students received a score of at least a three in 2009. Twenty-three percent of all high school students in the county completed AP exams, up 4 percent in as many years.
In Montgomery County, 72.3 percent of AP exams taken by more than 28,000 students received a passing grade this year. The number of students taking AP exams in the county increased by 10 percent since last year.
Students in Baltimore County took more than 9,000 exams in 2009, of which 68.4 percent received at least a three. The number of tests taken increased by about 1,000 from 2008.
All three counties had a passing percentage higher than reported state averages.
Montgomery County Public Schools reported that 61 percent of exams in Maryland received at least a three, based on May 2009 exam data from the College Board.
However, the Howard County Public School System reported that number was 63 percent. School system spokeswoman Patti Caplan also said that the percentage was from the College Board.
Significant gains were also made among minority students taking the tests.
The number of AP tests taken by black students in Montgomery County in 2009 jumped 14.6 percent from last year to 2,877 exams this year. Almost half of those exams scored a three or above.
In Howard County, 69.2 percent of black students passed their exams with at least a three, up from 57.8 percent last year.
Exam scores for black students in Baltimore County were not available.
Advance Placement scores are an indicator of college success.
A public school student in Montgomery County “who passed an AP exam is three times more likely to get a college degree within six years of graduating high school,” according to school system superintendent Dr. Jerry D. Weast, who announced the county’s test results for the 2008-2009 school year at Richard Montgomery High School Tuesday.