Minority and poor students in most states lag seriously behind their peers when it comes to successfully completing Advanced Placement exams.
A new report from The College Board, the company that administers the exams, shows that racial and income opportunity gaps persist in most states and are in some cases gaping. The exams often serve as one metric colleges and universities look at to determine an applicant’s appetite for challenging courses and ability to successfully learn from those courses. Many account for racial and income disparities, though low rates of success can still affect minority and poor applicants.
Overall, Maryland was home to the highest success rate among exam takers. More than a fourth of graduates last year scored a three or above on the five-point scale. Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts and Florida followed, each with rates above one in four as well. Mississippi had the lowest success rate at just 4.4 percent. Louisiana was next with 5.3 percent, followed by North Dakota with 9.1 percent.
Low-income students lag behind in every state
In every state in the nation, low-income students claimed a smaller — often much smaller — share of successful exam takers than the graduating population.
The gap was largest in Louisiana, where low-income students make up 66.2 percent of the graduating class, but just 15.4 percent of successful exams. The gap between the two is larger than 30 percentage points in 24 states. Texas had the smallest gap by far. There, low-income students accounted for 50.3 percent of the graduating class and 43.9 percent of successful scores.
Hawaii is the only state where blacks don’t lag behind
In the Aloha State, blacks accounted for a larger share of successful AP scores than they did the graduating population last year. Both proportions were small, though. Blacks made up just 2.3 percent of the graduating class, while they accounted for 2.8 percent of successful scores. No other state could claim the same and only in Hawaii and Idaho did blacks not lag behind in simply taking the exam. (In Idaho, blacks accounted for one percent of the graduating class as well as exam takers.)
Hispanic/Latinos lag behind in 37 states
Hispanic and Latinos fared better much better than blacks. In 13 states, the ethnic groups accounted for a larger slice of successful scores than the graduating population.
The gap was largest in Florida, where Hispanics and Latinos accounted for 5.9 percentage points more 31 percent of successful scores but only 25.1 percent of the graduating class. The gap was about half as small in Louisiana and about a sixth as small in Hawaii. The gap between the two was less than one percentage point in the remaining 10 states.
American Indians lag behind in 32 states
American Indians make up tiny fractions of the graduating class in each state, yet they had more successful scores proportionally in 18 states. But in almost all instance, the difference was tiny. The ethnic group accounted for just a slightly larger — or perfectly equal — slice of successful scores than the graduating class.