Higher percentage of Pr. George's seniors taking - and passing - AP tests

By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 17, 2010; 10:39 PM

The percentage of Prince George's County high school seniors taking at least one Advanced Placement exam is rising, as is the percentage of those achieving passing grades.

For the Class of 2010, the percentage taking an AP test rose to 35 percent, up from 27 percent for the Class of 2009, according to data released by the school system. Of the tests they took, 26.3 percent received passing grades of 3, 4 or 5 in 2010, up from 24.6 percent in 2009.

"We have worked hard to ensure equity in access to AP courses for all students throughout our county, and this year's data reflects that effort," Prince George's Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said in a statement.

The data also reflect lingering gaps in achievement among different groups, something Prince George's and other school systems continue to try to combat.

African American students received passing marks on 17.5 percent of the exams they took, and Hispanic students received passing marks on 30.3 percent of the exams. White students, meanwhile, received passing marks on 59.3 percent of exams.

AP classes are intended to be college-level classes that students take in high school.

In recent years, some educators, including in Prince George's, have pushed to expand access to the classes, saying that the rigorous offerings benefit students even if they do not pass the year-end exams.

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