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Student participation increases on AP exam

September 06, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The number of Washington County Public Schools students taking and passing advanced placement course exams increased in 2006 for the sixth straight year.

While the number of students taking the exams has increased, the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on the tests has remained largely the same.

According to data presented during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night, more AP exams were taken by Washington County students in 2006 than in any previous year. Seven-hundred-and-fifty students took 1,365 exams. More exams - 630 - received a score of a 3 or higher in 2006 than in any previous year, officials said.

Advanced placement courses are typically college-level courses. Students may choose to take an AP exam, which can be used for college credit, that includes a free-response section and multiple choice questions. They are scored on a scale of 1 to 5.

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According to data presented Tuesday, there were 1,897 AP class enrollments in 2006. Enrollment was up 220 from 2005 and 835 since 2001.

Five-hundred-and-thirty-two students who enrolled in AP courses did not take an AP exam, according to data provided by school officials. Last year, about 530 students who enrolled in AP courses did not take an exam. These numbers are down from 2004 when 618 did not take an exam, but up from 2003 when only 498 did not.

In 2006, 1,365 AP exams were taken in Washington County by 750 students, officials said. Bob Brown, coordinator for testing and accountability, said some students take more than one AP exam. Of those exams, 630 (46 percent) of them had a score of 3 or higher. A 3 is considered a passing score.

In 2005, 1,147 exams were taken in the county by 645 students, and 511 (44.5 percent) of those resulted in a 3 or higher, officials said. In 2004, when only 850 AP exams were taken, 402 (47.3 percent) resulted in passing scores.

Brown said the county's focus is getting more students to enroll in AP courses and take the AP exams

"While the number of tests taken and passed is increasing, the percentage of tests passed is remaining quite stable," Board Member Russell F. Williams said. "Obviously, everyone is trying to figure out a way to figure out how to get the number increase. At the moment, it's not happening."

Dr. Clyde Harrell, acting director for secondary instruction, said officials were working on improving the percentage of students who pass the tests by increasing the academic rigor at the middle and high school levels.

English advanced placement courses had the highest enrollment in 2006, with 546 students. Social studies AP courses had the second highest enrollment, with 443 students. Data from math, science, world languages, computer science and fine arts courses also were collected.

Data from 2006 AP exams at the national and state level will be available later this year.

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