MALDEN — For the third year in a row, Massachusetts is the top state in the nation in terms of the percentage of the graduating class that scored a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam, according to results released by the College Board today.
In addition, the Commonwealth had the highest 10-year growth in the percentage of graduates who scored a 3 or higher.
That accomplishment reflects both strong participation – 47.3 percent of Massachusetts' class of 2018 took at least one AP exam while they were in high school – and frequent success, with 32.9 percent of the overall class of 2018 scoring 3 or higher out of a possible 5 on an AP exam. Both figures were increases over the class of 2017.
“These results show that both students and teachers in Massachusetts are willing and able to take on advanced course work,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “Congratulations to the students on their accomplishments and to their teachers for the strong instruction and support that they provided.”
“It is a pleasure to see Massachusetts students leading on these measures for the third consecutive year,” Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. “As co-chair of the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council, I hope more students will try advanced coursework, particularly in science, technology and math.”
Participation in AP exams by members of the class of 2018 rose by 4.2 percent compared to the prior year, and the number of graduates who scored a 3 or higher rose by 3.6 percent. A score of 3 or above on an AP exam shows that a student is capable of doing the work for an introductory college-level course in that subject area, according to the College Board.
Massachusetts is working to reduce the fee to take an AP exam in spring 2019 for some additional low-income students for whom the fee is an obstacle. The money would be on top of a $300,000 grant DESE has already given to Mass Insight to reduce exam fees at schools where Mass Insight is supporting the AP program.
“There are students in every part of the Commonwealth who have the ability to do this work and be better prepared for opportunities after high school, and we want to make sure more students have the opportunity to take this exam and succeed,” Education Secretary James Peyser said.
“Massachusetts teachers and students do remarkable work every day, and I’m proud to see them at the top of the Advanced Placement charts,” Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said. “I hope more and more students realize that they, too, are capable of success on advanced coursework. I also appreciate the work of Mass Insight Education and Research, which has partnered with us to increase participation and performance on AP courses.”
“Mass Insight Education and Research is proud to support both teachers and students as they undertake challenging AP courses,” said Dr. Susan F. Lusi, president and CEO of Mass Insight Education and Research. “The extra time students invested during Saturday study sessions and the professional development time teachers put in over the summer have helped students find success in these challenging courses.”
Advanced Placement teachers in Massachusetts include 2019 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Jamil Siddiqui, who teaches AP Calculus at East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School. He is also an AP calculus consultant for the College Board and works with Mass Insight Education and Research, an organization that has partnered with DESE to increase participation and performance in AP courses, especially among underserved populations.
“When students are determined and have the right supports, they can do almost anything,” Mr. Siddiqui said. “I look forward to continuing my work with AP teachers and students to ensure more students have access to this kind of advanced coursework.”
Hispanic/Latino and black students continue to make gains in participation and performance. In 2008, Hispanic/Latino high school graduates had taken 1,787 exams; in 2018, they had taken 10,068 (which was also an increase over the class of 2017’s 9,200 exams). In 2008, Hispanic/Latino high school graduates had received scores of 3 or higher on 959 exams; in 2018, they had scored 3 or higher on 4,734 exams (which was also an increase over the class of 2017’s 4,314 exams).
Black students also saw gains. In 2008, black high school graduates had taken 1,584 AP exams; in 2018, they had taken 4,761 (which was also an increase over the class of 2017’s 4,592 exams). In 2008, black high school graduates had received scores of 3 or higher on 565 exams; in 2018, they had scored 3 or higher on 1,620 AP exams (which was also an increase over the class of 2017’s 1,434 exams).
(Note: The College Board changed how it asks students about race and ethnicity during the 2015-16 school year.)
Low-income members of Massachusetts’ class of 2018 also saw improvement compared to 10 years ago. In 2008, low-income high school graduates had taken 4,581 exams; in 2018, they had taken 21,905 (which was also an increase over the class of 2017’s 20,325 exams). In 2008, low-income high school graduates had received scores of 3 or higher on 2,034 exams; in 2018, they had scored 3 or higher on 9,881 exams (which was an increase compared to the class of 2017’s 8,787 exams).
Results for individual schools’ class of 2018 are not available through DESE, but AP results for 2017-18 that include all students (students in 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades) are online at http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/statereport/ap.aspx.