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Md. tops U.S. in one measure of AP test performance

Maryland Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick has backed high school exit exams, although some question whether they help graduates in the long run.
Maryland Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick has backed high school exit exams, although some question whether they help graduates in the long run. (By Christopher T. Assaf -- Baltimore Sun Via Associated Press)

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said the state promotes AP through online learning programs, aggressive outreach and federal grants to subsidize test fees for low-income students. She said a national math and science initiative had also raised performance at 14 schools (all outside the Washington area) with traditionally low participation rates.

"More of our young people are ready for the challenge of AP courses because of the Standards of Learning program," Wright said, referring to a statewide testing program, "which has raised the instructional floor for all students."

In Montgomery, Frederick, Calvert and Howard counties, the share of graduating seniors who passed an AP test reached or exceeded 30 percent, Grasmick said. In Prince George's County and Baltimore, the share was about 9 percent.

"There are no systems that are not engaged at this point," she said, "and that was not the case just a couple years ago."

Montgomery County reported that nearly half of its graduates -- 48.7 percent -- passed at least one AP test, and that 20.9 percent of its African American graduates reached that milestone.

The College Board highlighted Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's as a top performer in minority student achievement. The Greenbelt school had the largest number of African American students in the nation who passed AP tests in biology, chemistry and English language.

"We are very excited about the acknowledgment from the College Board," Prince George's Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said. He attributed the school's success to teacher training, data monitoring and interventions to help prepare students for rigorous work.

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