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State scores high on AP placement

By Staff | Feb 13, 2010

Statewide ratings for the Advanced Placement exam were released this week and officials pointed out that Florida’s students are tied for fifth nationwide according to the amount of graduates who passed the exam.
These tests are typically taken by high school students looking to receive college credit for an advanced class. It’s offered in a number of subjects and a student receives credit if they earn a 3 or more out of 5.
More Lee County students are taking and passing AP exams than ever before, according to district data. In 2008-2009 the number of district students being tested increased from 45 to 53 percent and 62 out of every 100 students passed. When AP exams were first administered in 1998 only 36 out of every 100 students passed.
The number of minority students taking the exam in the same year also increased from 31 to 37 percent.
State figures also show more students taking AP exams — English and Social Studies among the most common — and more Florida students are taking the test than in any other part of the nation. In 2009, there were 58,394 students taking at least one AP exam in high school.
Savanna Gindele, International Baccalaureate coordinator for Cape Coral High, said the school is planning to administer an estimated 500 AP exams in May. The school also added three new AP courses in the 2009-2010 academic year, she said.
Both IB and standard diploma students can elect to take an AP course.
“They can take as many or as few as they like, whereas in IB it is a program where they’re in and dedicated to the program,” said Gindele. “The AP courses an IB student takes are an elective option.”
Many students try to take as many AP courses as possible, she said, to get college credit and save money in the long run. When students finish these advanced courses they need to take and pass the AP exam to get credit.
“More students are attempting to take them and go for college credit,” said Gindele. “You can walk in with a lot of your basic freshman classes complete.”
School systems across the nation are reforming to ensure students are ready for college or the workforce when they graduate. Grant programs such as Race to the Top — which Lee County opted out of last month — are helping to expand access to college-level courses and exams.
State leaders spent the week congratulating schools on their improvements in college-readiness.
“Exposing our students to rigorous coursework such as AP is important to ensuring they leave our schools prepared for college or a career,” said Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith, in a prepared statement.
Gov. Charlie Crist applauded Florida’s new national rating and is recommending in his new budget that teachers earn additional bonuses for helping their students to pass college-level course exams. Teachers already earn $50 for every student who passes the exam with a $2,000 cap, yet Crist wants the bonuses to be increased and the caps removed.
“This achievement is exciting news for the future of Florida, and teachers of college-level courses like Advanced Placement should be rewarded for their extra effort, just as their students are,” said Crist, in a prepared statement.