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More Hillsborough County Students Taking AP and Excelling

Hillsborough County Public School

Hillsborough County Public Schools

A record number of Hillsborough County Public Schools students participated in Advanced Placement courses in 2012 and a record number earned a score of 3 or above.

The percentage of students earning a 3 or above also increased from 38 percent to 42 percent - a significant increase, especially given the increase in the number of students taking the AP exams. Both the number and percentage of students earning a 3 or above on AP exams increased by more than 10 percent.

"This is more evidence that our students - and our teachers - are up to the task,'' said Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. "These are the toughest, most rigorous courses available. These external exams are proof that with the right preparation and with excellent instruction our students are doing college-level work."

Since the school district began aggressively increasing access to the rigorous AP courses, the number of Hillsborough County students taking AP tests has more than doubled from 15,069 in 2007 to 32,796 in 2012. A significant increase in participation typically results in a decrease in the percentage of students earning a 3 or above, especially since AP tests are no longer only for the academic elite. Now that percentage has steadily increased and exceeds the rate at the time the district began emphasizing AP exams. In 2007, the percentage of test-takers earning a 3 or above was 39 percent.

AP exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 3 or above considered eligible for college credit.

Hillsborough County has been lauded for dramatically increasing access to AP classes. In 2011 the College Board awarded the school district the District of the Year Beacon Award for creating a culture based on college and career readiness. The College Board lauded the district for achieving the largest increase in the number of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher of any district in the nation from 2008-2010.

In addition to encouraging more students to take AP courses, the district has implemented the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination) at the middle school level to help prepare students for the high-level coursework.

The Florida Department of Education and the State Board of Education have recognized the value of AP classes by including participation and passing rates as a factor in school grades at the high school level. Also, students who earn a score of 3, 4, or 5 on the AP exam are considered eligible to received college credit in that course, which can significantly reduce college tuition costs for families, often by as much as $17,000 when students earn enough credits to cover their first year of college.

The chart below shows the number of AP exams taken each year since 2005-2006.

Number of AP exams taken each year since 2005-2006.