W. Va. Students Taking and Earning Advanced Placement Credit

February 14, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The number of West Virginia public school students taking college-level Advanced Placement (AP) courses and earning credit continues to steadily increase, according to a national report released on Tuesday. In 2013, more than 38 hundred high school graduates took an AP course compared to only 19 hundred graduates 2003.

The number of students earning college credit by scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam increased from 959 in 2003 to 1,616 in 2013. English Language and Composition is the most common AP course taken by West Virginia students.  

“The AP report shows that some West Virginia students are taking advantage of Advanced Placement courses and how they enhance a high school career,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. “Still, the small number of students who enrolled in these courses also shows we have a lot of work ahead of us to improve student achievement in West Virginia.”

The report also indicates that West Virginia is doing a poor job with AP courses when it comes to African-American students, the largest minority group in the state. In 2013, only 83 students who had enrolled in an AP course took the corresponding exam. Of those, only 26 scored a 3 or higher.

“We must do better to reach all West Virginia students, and the state Board of Education is committed to making reforms to see that happen,” Phares said. “All children need strong literacy and math skills if they are to succeed in college or career. When students do not have the ability to read fluently and to understand and apply math skills, higher level courses are closed to them and their options are limited.”

Encouraging more students to enroll in Advanced Placement courses is one step West Virginia is taking to increase rigor in its schools. To do so, the state Department of Education is working with the West Virginia Center for Professional Development (WVCPD), which trains educators to teach Advanced Placement courses.

“While we are pleased with the advances made over the past 10 years, we know that progress is not truly made until all parts of our student population participate in and succeed in AP,” said Dr. Dixie Billheimer, CEO of the WVCPD. “We look forward to working with our partners in education to ensure that all students have the support needed to take and excel in these rigorous courses,” she said.

Working in partnership, the state Department of Education and the state Board of Education joined the Center for Professional Development, the state Department of Education and the Arts, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the College Board to revise the state’s AP Strategic Plan. This partnership seeks to create policies and practices to ensure that the graduating class of 2018 will have achieved specific AP goals. These include: 25 percent of this graduating class will have participated in one or more AP courses; that 15 percent of this class will have scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam; and that the equity and excellence gap for African-American students among this class will be eliminated.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.  

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