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Mayor Bowser Announces DC has Highest Three- and Five-Year Gains on Advanced Placement Scores

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District of Columbia had the largest three-year and five-year increases in the percentage of public school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam compared to other states, according to a College Board report that analyzed the AP performance of students in public schools across the country in 2019.

“What these results show us is that when we challenge our students and continuously increase access to opportunity, our young people can and will rise to the challenge,” said Mayor Bowser. “In the fall, NAEP results confirmed that DC continues to have the fastest improving public schools in the nation. Now, these results are another indication that our schools are on the right path. There is more work to do, but we are proud of our students and educators for continuously proving what’s possible when you invest in young people and invest in education.”

According to the College Board analysis, nearly 20 percent of the District’s public high school students included in the College Board’s analysis scored a 3 or higher, reflecting a 12.3 percentage point change over 10 years and a 7.8 percentage point change over five years. Only one other state had higher growth over 10 years (Massachusetts) and no other state had higher growth over five years. AP exams are scored 1 to 5, with a score of 3 or higher meaning a student is qualified to receive college credit and placement.

The College Board analysis indicated 54.4 percent of the District’s students considered in the analysis took an AP exam during high school, a 16.3 percentage point increase over 2009. The number of students scoring a 3 or higher more than tripled over 10 years. In total, this group (a cohort of students in the graduating class of 2019) took 7,142 AP exams during high school, with 37.7 percent of those exams receiving a score of 3 or higher.

Washington, DC was also highlighted as one of 30 states that provides funding for low-income students to take AP exams. In 2019, 35.9 percent of AP exam takers in the District of Columbia used funding provided by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to cover fees for AP exams. Of those, 29.9 percent scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam. OSSE began paying AP fees for low-income students in fiscal year 2018 to increase access.

“AP classes serve as great preparation for college, providing college-level curriculum early to ease transition from high school to first year of college. Not only does AP coursework look good on high school transcripts, a high score on the exam could allow them to earn college credits without paying college tuition,” said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. “The investments we’ve made as a city and the work we have done to increase rigor in classroom District-wide, has led to unprecedented progress that is providing greater opportunities for a greater number of students each year.”

The AP Cohort Data Report: Graduating Class of 2019, released by the College Board on February 6, examines students’ entire experience with AP, including all AP exams taken by members of the class of 2019 throughout their time in high school.