In most school districts, as access to and participation in Advanced Placement exams have gone up, the exam passing rates have gone down. But that isn't always the case. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, looking to identify urban districts with promising trends in student achievement and college-readiness, analyzed four years of AP exam participation and passing rates for students in the 75 districts whose demographics qualify them for consideration for the annual Broad Prize for Urban Education. It found six districts where African-American students were improving their passing rates while keeping participation levels steady. This report illustrates some of the promising practices contributing to AP success in these six districts.
- Observation: A common thread in the six districts is the expansion of gifted selection criteria and a broader search for potential, beginning in elementary school and continuing through PSAT scores.
- Observation: Large high schools enable these districts to offer AP classes in numerous subjects, which helps ensure that all students have access in their schedules to challenging courses.
- Observation: Student advising and parent outreach are critical in increasing diverse enrollment in AP classes.
- Observation: In addition to access, the six districts provide extensive support to ensure students' success in AP classes, including test preparation and longer term interventions.
- Challenge: Even in the six districts highlighted, it would take years at the current rates to close the gaps. Meanwhile, some of the districts reported that they're scaling back their efforts because of budget cuts.