Colorado Expands Opportunities for Under-Represented Advanced Placement Students

Arvada High School Principal Kathy Norton and students hold the over-sized check the school received from the Colorado Education Initiative for outstanding A.P. course completion scores. Norton and the students are surrounded by various officials from the district, the State, and the Colorado Education Initiative.

Arvada High School Principal Kathy Norton (fourth from left) and students accept a check from the Colorado Education Initiative for outstanding A.P. course completion scores. Photo credit: Colorado Education Initiative

Across Colorado, high school students who previously would not have had the opportunity to enroll in Advanced Placement (A.P.) classes are not only enrolling, but also are earning passing scores in those classes.  “The best thing about A.P. classes is you get the prep for college and you get to learn so much more than you ever would have imagined in high school,” said Megan, a student at Arvada High School in Jefferson County. “It expands your mind to places you never thought it could go.”

Responding to disparities in A.P. enrollment across the State, the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is engaging with 23 high schools to increase the number and diversity of students taking and passing A.P. mathematics, science, and English classes to ensure that more students like Megan are better prepared for postsecondary education.  CEI’s program, called the Colorado Legacy Schools Initiative (CLSI), is driven by the philosophy that all students are capable of succeeding in rigorous courses.

CLSI’s strategy is already delivering dividends.  After only the first year, participating schools had already seen improvement: in 2012-2013, many CLSI schools showed a 70-percent increase in the number of students who earned a passing score on the mathematics, science, and English A.P. exams.  “These outstanding results equate to 522 new high school students who have had the opportunity to participate and succeed in rigorous A.P. coursework” stated Helayne Jones, president and CEO of the CEI. This includes the students at Arvada High, whose 95-percent growth in passing A.P. scores was more than 10 times the state and national average in 2013.

CLSI benefits from a partnership with the National Mathematics and Science Initiative (NMSI), which uses part of its $15 million Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to fund the program.

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More Students Challenging Themselves by Taking AP Classes

States across the country join Colorado in preparing more students to be ready for college or other advanced training after high school by promoting the Advanced Placement (AP) program.  Over the past decade nationally, the number of high school graduates who took AP classes nearly doubled, according to the College Board.   The below graphic shows how Race to the Top States have responded to the charge to prepare students by increasing access and success in AP classes.  Students in Colorado took 16.4% more exams in 2013 than they did in 2011, and are posting 15.7% more qualifying scores on exams in the same time period.  To learn more about strategies other States are using to increase college and career preparation, read about how Kentucky students are taking more AP classes and posting more qualifying scores on the exams here. The College Board offers 34 different AP classes.

The text across the top reads: The Advanced Placement program is one way to ensure that more students gain access to challenging courses that prepare them to think, solve problems, write and master what the global job market demands. The box on the top is titled: Participation Rates in Race to the Top States. The box includes several statistics. Students took 1.8 million AP exams in 2013, an increase of 13.2% since 2011. The gains since 2011 include an additional 71,388 exams taken in mathematics and science (an increase of 12.9%); an additional 135,954 exams taken in English, history, and social science (an increase of 11.9%); and an additional 10,409 exams taken in arts and world languages (an increase of 8.7%). The box also includes a map of the United States with the States that received Race to the Top funds highlighted. Participation rates in Louisiana rose 60.3% since 2011, the biggest gain of any State. Participation rates increased in other Race to the Top States: 14.6% increase in Hawaii, 23.6% increase in Arizona, 16.4% increase in Colorado 21.0% increase in Illinois, 19.7% increase in Kentucky, 17.1% increase in Tennessee, 17.3% increase in Georgia, 5.7% increase in Florida, 15.9% increase in Ohio, 14.1% increase in North Carolina, 14.8% in Pennsylvania, 7.4% increase in New York, 10.9% increase in Maryland, 24.6% increase in the District of Columbia, 19.1% increase in Delaware, 16.5% increase in New Jersey, 18.7% increase in Massachusetts, and 24.0% increase in Rhode Island. The box on the bottom is titled: Qualifying Scores in Race to the Top States. The box includes several statistics. Students scored 3 or higher (qualifying for college credit) on 1.1 million AP exams in 2013, an increase of 16.1% since 2011. The gains since 2011 include an additional 63,113 qualifying scores in mathematics and science (an increase of 18.2%); an additional 75,790 qualifying scores in English, history, and social science (an increase of 11.4%); and an additional 13,230 qualifying scores in arts and world languages (an increase of 15.4%). The box also includes a map of the United States with the States that received Race to the Top funds highlighted. Qualifying scores in Louisiana rose 35.1% since 2011, the biggest gain of any State. Qualifying scores increased in other Race to the Top States: 4.7% increase in Hawaii, 24.2% increase in Arizona, 15.7% increase in Colorado, 20.5% increase in Illinois, 25.0% increase in Kentucky, 19.2% increase in Tennessee, 19.3% increase in Georgia, 13.5% increase in Florida, 18.6% increase in Ohio, 14.1% increase in North Carolina, 18.3% in Pennsylvania, 9.9% increase in New York, 13.4% increase in Maryland, 15.9% increase in the District of Columbia, 17.2% increase in Delaware, 17.0% increase in New Jersey, 18.8% increase in Massachusetts, and 18.8% increase in Rhode Island. At the bottom of the image there is a note: This graphic has been updated from a previous version. Updated on May 23, 2014. The source is also given: http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data.