When you’re up until 3 a.m. on April 20 trying to cram four Barron’s review books into a seemingly nonexistent brain, it may feel like you’re facing Advanced Placement exams alone. But you’re not. The entire county faces them, and in record-breaking numbers.
MCPS students took 29,854 AP exams last year, a county record-high. The number increased by just over a thousand from 2009.
“The increase is a nice testimony and affirmation of good teaching going on throughout the entire county,” said Michael Durso, a member of the board of education. “The results are a strong indicator of our priorities and commitments to all students.”
In 2010, students scored a passing three or higher on 71.7 percent of exams, down from the 72.3 percent passing rate in 2009.
Yet even with the slight drop, MCPS pass rates are higher than the average scores in the state and country. Only 59.6 percent of Maryland students and 55.8 percent of the country earned a score of three or higher.
Exposing students to AP level class work gives them a taste for real college material at an early age, sophomore Evan Cernea said.
Though the increase in AP exam participation is gratifying to some, others feel it’s the result of over-pressuring students to excel.
“My parents expect me to take a lot of AP classes so I can get into a good college,” sophomore Tara Biglari said. “People sometimes push themselves to live up to the high standards of parents and administrators, even when they don’t want to or aren’t able to.”
In the county, participation among minority students also increased dramatically, with 16.4 percent more African American and 9.2 percent more Hispanic students taking at least one AP exam than last year.
“With good teachers, high expectations and properly motivated students, the upward trend in participation and achievement can continue,” Durso said.