Advanced Placement stats show Florida rising above demographics

Ron Matus

we're no. 1Florida public schools don’t get much attention or credit when they finish in the Top 5 or 10 on key indicators of academic progress. Maybe being No. 1 will turn some heads.

The latest College Board report on Advanced Placement exams, released Tuesday, show Florida schools No. 2 in the percentage of graduating seniors who took at least one AP exam, No. 5 in the percentage passing at least one and No. 2 in progress on that passing percentage over the last decade. Those impressive rankings didn’t translate into many headlines or congratulatory press releases, but there’s another compelling one behind them.

Florida, it turns out, is No. 1 when it comes to the differential between its rank in AP performance (No. 5) and its rank in percentage of low-income kids (No. 43). See the chart below.

Now trying to pick the one state that’s doing the best job with low-income students and AP success is tough (go to page 37 of the College Board report to see why), so the No. 1 here is eh, gimmicky. But at the least, Florida’s AP results suggest that it is, to a praiseworthy extent, transcending the challenge of its demographics on exams that are widely considered good signs of college readiness.

This isn’t coincidence. Florida education leaders pushed hard to open the doors of AP classrooms to low-income and minority students who were long shut out.

And this is the result: Over the past decade, the percentage of low-income, graduating seniors  in Florida who passed at least one AP exam rose from 1,403 to 12,774, an 810 percent increase. In 2003, low-income students made up 7.2 percent of those AP-passing seniors. Last year, they made up 31 percent. The national rate was 22 percent, and only three states (Texas, California and New Mexico) had higher rates.

Three cheers for Florida!

AP performance vs FRL

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