Research and Evaluation

Trends in Advanced Placement (AP) Participation and Success, 2009-2012

Margaret Becker Patterson, Ph.D. and Carole Portas Keane, Ph.D.  


The Advanced Placement (AP®) program is an integral part of Prince George’s County Public Schools’ (PGCPS’) effort to have all students graduate college- or career-ready.  Participation in AP courses and success on AP exams (i.e., scoring three or higher) are measures the district has adopted to assess the extent to which it is moving toward that objective.  Using AP course enrollment and AP exam-taking data in four core content areas (math, science, English, and social studies) for the Classes of 2009 through 2012, this study examines trends in AP participation and success and differences by demographic groups and among schools.  The findings indicate that AP participation is trending upwards.  Among SY2012 seniors, the AP participation rate was 35%; an increase from the 31% among the SY2009 cohort.  The AP exam success rate has remained stable, however, at approximately 25% for each cohort.  Still, it is notable that the number of students who are successful on AP exams is trending upwards due to higher number of students taking them.  The increase in AP course participation was generally widespread among all high schools; only two experienced a decline from the SY2009 cohort to the SY2012 cohort.  The graduates who were successful on at least one AP exam, however, were concentrated in just two of the district’s 22 high schools.  For each cohort included in this study, more than half of the students who were successful on at least one AP exam attended either Eleanor Roosevelt HS or Bowie HS. 

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    Did You Know?

    Participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses is on the rise; an increase of 15 percentage-points since SY2009


    More than 33,600 students, 9,000 parents, and 5,700 teachers participated in the 2017 School Climate Survey.