The College Board recently issued a report indicating that the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams is increasing. For example, while 430,000 public school students in the 2001 graduating class took an AP exam at some point in their high school career, approximately 800,000 such students in the 2009 graduating class did so. In addition, 15.9% of public school students in the 2009 graduating class received a passing grade on one or more AP exams (considered a score of 3 or higher on a 5-point scale), compared to 12.7% of such students in the 2004 graduating class. The report also reveals that increasing numbers of African American, Latino and American Indian students are participating in the AP program. Unfortunately, students in certain minority groups remain underserved. For example, Black or African American students represented 14.5% of the public school graduating class of 2009 but just 8.2% of the AP examinee population. Similarly, American Indian or Alaska Native students represented 1.2% of the overall public school student population in 2009 but just 0.6% of the examinee population. Asian students, by contrast, are overrepresented in the testing population, representing 5.4% of the public school graduating class of 2009 but 10.2% of the examinee population.

Increased participation rates are likely attributable at least in part to initiatives such as Project Opening Doors (“POD”), a new program offered on a nation-wide basis through the National Math and Science Initiative (“NMSI”). POD is designed to increase the availability of Advanced Placement courses and to increase student achievement by providing students with more time with teachers, increasing training for teachers, and increased offerings of AP courses. It has a particular focus on encouraging the participation and achievement of minority students in advanced placement courses. Under POD, teachers are eligible for incentive payments based on how their students perform on AP examinations. To read the full text of the College Board report please click here. A related New York Times article is also available by clicking here.