Virginia students back in Top 10 in Achievement on AP Exams

Virginia News

FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2019 file photo, students walk near the Widener Library in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. University and federal officials confirmed that incoming Harvard University student Ismail Ajjawi, 17, of Lebanon, was refused entry into the U.S. after landing at Logan International Airport in Boston on Friday, Aug. 23. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) – Nearly 30-percent of Virginia’s 2020 public high school graduates demonstrated college-level achievement on at least one Advanced Placement (AP) examination – that is according to data released on Wednesday from the College Board, a nonprofit organization that manages the AP program.

The College Board reported that 28.6-percent of the Commonwealth’s 2020 graduating seniors earned a score of three or higher on at least one AP test which represents a slight decrease from 2019, when 28.8-percent of graduating seniors earned qualifying scores.

Virginia ranked 10th in the nation in AP performance. Nationwide, 24.4-percent of graduating seniors achieved scores of three or higher.

“While Virginia continues to rank in the top 10 in AP participation and performance, there are still wide disparities in participation and outcomes when we compare data for different groups. As high schools recover from the coronavirus pandemic, equity – including expanding access to AP courses and identifying and encouraging more students with the potential to succeed – must be a priority.”

James Lane, Super

Disaggregated by student group, the percentages of graduates in Virginia in 2020 who earned a qualifying score on at least one AP examination during high school are as follows:

  • Asian students: 52.0%
  • American Indian students: 12.7%
  • Black students: 9.1%
  • Hispanic students: 24.3 %
  • White students: 28.1%

Total, Virginia students earned qualifying scores on 98,556 AP examinations in 2020 which represents an estimated 295,698 college credits, according to the College Board.

At an average rate of $462 per college credit hour, the Board estimates the total potential savings for students and families in the Commonwealth was $136,612,476.

Even though colleges and universities set their own policies for awarding credit, a score of three or higher on an AP test is generally accepted as indicative of college-level work.

The top ten most-popular AP courses among graduating seniors in 2019 in Virginia were:

  1. English Language and Composition
  2. U.S. History
  3. U.S. Government and Politics
  4. World History: Modern
  5. Psychology
  6. English Literature and Composition
  7. Calculus AB
  8. Biology
  9. Environmental Science
  10. Human Geography

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