February 21, 2014
Advanced Placement courses offered in high schools across the country are touted as a way to benefit students in several ways.
One is to present students with the type of rigorous course work that will help them develop their minds. Another is that taking Advanced Placement, or AP, courses will help prepare them for the kind of studies they will face as they pursue higher education. One more benefit is that students scoring high enough on an AP course exam will receive college credit, increasing the odds that a student will complete his or her college education on time and save money in the process.
One key for students to take advantage of those potential benefits is simply having the opportunity to take the courses. But those opportunities aren’t always there, as a recent report by the College Board points out.
The “10th Annual AP Report to the Nation” said that low-income students accounted for 27.5 percent of 2013 graduates across the nation who took at least one AP exam. That’s an increase from 11.4 percent in 2003. Another barometer is that an estimated 57 percent of all low-income graduates in 2013 took at least one AP exam.
In West Virginia, though, the numbers weren’t so promising. While nearly 52 percent of the state’s students receive free or reduced lunches, low-income students made up 16 percent of exam takers, according to College Board data. That means less than a third of low-income students took an AP exam, a far lower proportion than the national average.
It’s encouraging to hear that the state realizes it should do better and is working toward that. Let’s hope the policies and practices they are developing will yield more opportunities — and more success — for students who have shown they have the potential to take on more rigorous academic challenges.
— The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington