More W.Va. Students Taking Advanced Placement Courses

September 19, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia public school students are taking significantly more Advanced Placement exams than ever before, according to a national report released Wednesday.  

The Annual Student Achievement Report, published by the College Board, shows that in the past five years the total number of AP exams taken by public school students in West Virginia increased about 63 percent from 5,655 to 9,201.

“The AP report validates that our decision in West Virginia to increase the rigor of our curriculum and encourage our students to take more difficult classes is paying off,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. "But we also know that we have not reached our final goal if we want to prepare all students for the 21st century through Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.

West Virginia public school students also are passing AP exams with increasingly higher scores. All AP exams are scored on a 5-point scale. Students must score a three or higher to receive college credit. From 2009-2010 to the 2010-2011, public school students receiving a score of 3 or higher on AP exams increased 22.3 percent from 3,264 to 3,992. Many students voluntarily enrolled in more than one AP course as they sought to take on higher level content and more intense classroom work.

At the same time, the number of West Virginia public school students taking college-level Advanced Placement courses in 2010- 2011 jumped 14.1 percent, outperforming the national average increase of about eight percent.  

The Annual Student Achievement Report also showed that minority public school students in West Virginia are experiencing the greatest participation growths on the SAT college entrance exam. In the 2010-2011 school year, Hispanic students taking the SAT increased nearly 41 percent to 59, while African-American students taking the exam increased about 31 percent to 136. Overall, West Virginia public school student participation on the SAT increased nearly seven percent to 2,455.

While more public school students in West Virginia are taking the SAT, their overall performance decreased this year. In reading, the average score was 511, down three points from last year, while math was 499, down 7 points. The average writing score was 494, down 4 points.

“West Virginia has seen steady growth in participation but we know we must do better,” Marple said. “We are cautiously optimistic that as the 21st century next generation and Common Core standards are incorporated into our curriculum, student performance will grow.”

Most college-bound students in the South and Midwest, including West Virginia, opt to take the ACT instead of the SAT. The SAT exam is the most popular college entrance exam for private schools and those on the East and West coasts. Both exams are accepted for consideration for the PROMISE Scholarship, West Virginia’s merit-based scholarship.  The College Board oversees the SAT and the AP program.

In West Virginia, the West Virginia Center for Professional Development is responsible for training educators to teach Advanced Placement courses.

“All the education partners are pleased with the Advanced Placement (AP) report indicating double digit percent increases in access and success for West Virginia Students,” said Dixie Billheimer, CEO of the West Virginia  Center for Professional Development (WVCPD). "WVCPD continues to work with the state Department of Education, the state Board of Education, the College Board and individual schools to make sure all students have the opportunity to take and excel in these courses.

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

--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.