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MORE STUDENTS PASSING AP TESTS.

Byline: Daily News Staff and Wire Reports

WASHINGTON - More students are passing Advanced Placement exams in every part of the country, as college-level work in high school becomes increasingly common - and competitive.

In every state and the District of Columbia, the percentage of public school students who passed at least one AP test was up in 2004, compared with the graduating class of 2000. The Bush administration, which has been pushing to increase high school rigor, embraced the news, which followed other reports that have underscored how unprepared many graduates are for college or work.

Significant gaps remain, even as AP participation booms nationwide, according to the first state-by-state report in the 50-year history of the college-level testing program. Many students enter college without having passed an AP test. And black students have low test participation and test scores a full level behind those of whites.

Across the country, 20.9 percent of the public school class of 2004 - one in five students - took at least one AP exam, compared with 15.9 percent four years earlier. More significantly, 13.2 percent mastered an AP exam last year, up from 10.2 percent in 2000.

Research shows that success on AP exams is a strong predictor of success in college.

Los Angeles Unified schools do not measure the percentage of students who passed AP exams of the entire student population, but by the number of students who actually took the exam.

Typically, the more students who take AP exams, the lower the number of students who pass, district officials said. But in the LAUSD, the percentage of students who took an exam and passed increased from 46.6 percent in 2003 to 47 percent in 2004.

Sheila Smith, LAUSD coordinator for gifted/talented programs, attributed the increase in students taking the exams - which cost $82 each - to efforts by teachers and college counselors, who stress that college admission officials put extra weight on AP courses.

In addition, four Los Angeles Unified School District high schools placed in the top 100 schools in the country in the number of AP exams given in May 2004: North Hollywood High School, with 1,639 exams, placed 24th; El Camino Real, with 1,316, placed 51st; Granada Hills, with 1,302, placed 53rd; and Marshall, 1,264, placed 55th. Van Nuys High School, with 1,005 exams, placed 123rd.

The AP Program, which began as an experiment for elite students seeking college courses and credit, has now become a fixture in more than 14,000 U.S. public schools. Beyond gaining experience, a student gains an edge; college admission officers say they place more importance on grades in college-prep courses such as AP than they do on any other factor.

``This new report provides further proof that our children respond when we challenge them academically,'' said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who began her term this week.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 26, 2005
Words:482
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