GCS Releases 2011-12 Advanced Placement Data

Almost 45 percent of Guilford County Schools' (GCS) Class of 2012 took at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam during high school. These 2,065 seniors took a total of 8,317 AP exams while in high schools and received a passing score on 56.9 percent of the exams taken. This was a 5 percentage-point increase from 2011, when seniors passed 51.9 percent of the 8,713 exams taken in grades nine through 12.

While the College Board, which oversees academic programs including AP and the SAT, does not release the official results until February, the GCS participation rate of 44.5 percent is above last year's national and state participation rates, which were 30.2 percent and 30.3 percent respectively.  

The College Board calculates participation by dividing the number of seniors who took at least one AP exam during high school by the total number of seniors in a graduating class. The College Board also uses the total number of seniors to calculate the passage rate for AP exams. The passage rate is determined by dividing the number of seniors who received at least one passing grade on AP divided by the total number seniors in a graduating class.

Using the College Board method, the AP passage rate for GCS in 2012, which is based on all seniors and not just the ones who took AP exams, was 27.9 percent. In 2011, the passage rates were 27.0 percent for GCS, 18.1 percent for the U.S. and 18.4 percent in North Carolina.

The College Board reports show participation decreasing slightly during the last several years - from 46.0 percent in 2008 to 44.5 percent in 2012. Since the 2009-10 school year, students have been responsible for paying a portion of the cost of each AP exam they take, while the district covers the remaining portion. The College Board and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction cover the exam fees for students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

Since there is a fee for taking the AP exams, participation is optional, but GCS continues to encourage students to take the exams in addition to the AP courses.

"We are pleased that students are continuing to challenge themselves academically by enrolling in rigorous college-level courses, and moreover, that they follow through and complete the final examination," said Dibrelle Tourret, executive director of academically gifted. "Success on an AP exam often provides advanced course placement or even course credit at the university. While these are great incentives to select an AP course, we believe that the skills and preparation that AP classes offer are the best motivation to choose AP."

Also released recently by the district were ACT results for seniors in 2012. Results showed 2012 seniors earning an average score of 19.3 on the ACT with 746 students taking the exam. Eleventh-graders in GCS earned an average score of 18 on the ACT, according to results released last month. District officials reported 4,956 juniors took the exam last spring as the state moves to a new accountability model. The ACT assesses college readiness in English, mathematics, reading and science.

The 2012 scores on the ACT for both juniors and seniors will establish a baseline for GCS and the state. Students' ACT scores in 2013 will become part of the state's new accountability model.

On the SAT, as previously reported by the district, GCS seniors in 2012 earned an average combined score of 964 for critical reading and mathematics on the SAT college admissions exam. GCS scores on the SAT continue to trail state and national averages, which are 997 and 1010, respectively. However, GCS student participation rates are higher, with 73.2 percent, or 3,404 seniors, taking the exam in comparison to 68 percent for North Carolina and 52 percent nationally.

Results for the SAT, ACT and AP exams show gaps in student subgroups, including African American, Hispanic and Asian students. District staff will increase school-level communications and focus on providing specific supports to students and their families. The district has also partnered with Guilford Parent Academy to assist parents in understanding the testing process and how parents can help their child prepare for these tests.