Colorado sees positive trends in Advanced Placement outcomes, but work remains

Written by: Stephanie Perez-Carrillo
Date Posted: March 2, 2018

More students than ever took an Advanced Placement (AP) Exam in high school last year, and more earned a score of 3 or higher on an AP Exam, according to a report released by CollegeBoard. The data reveal that during the past 10 years, there has been a 70 percent increase in the number of U.S. public high school graduates who’ve taken an AP Exam sometime in high school, as well as a 68 percent increase in the number of graduates who’ve scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam.

Significant gains were seen among black and Latino students, who experienced a 168 percent increase in the number of students scoring a 3 or higher since 2007, although they represented just 37 percent of all students enrolled in AP courses. Over the 10-year period, Colorado saw an 8.6 percent increase in the percentage of high school graduates earning a 3 or higher on an AP Exam. Twenty-seven percent of Colorado students earned a 3 or higher, which was just above the national average of 23 percent. An AP score of 3 or higher enables students to earn credits towards their college course load.

While these gains represent positive growth in the AP program, there is still work to be done to ensure all students have the opportunity to experience rigorous coursework and earn college credit while still in high school. Research shows that students who take at least one AP course in high school earn higher GPAs in college, take more college coursework in the discipline, are more likely to graduate college in four years, and have higher college attainment rates.

We know that there are challenges to providing AP courses in rural parts of our state, and we have an opportunity to support their expansion. During the current legislative session, Reps. Jim Wilson and Barbara McLachlan introduced HB18-1193, which reauthorizes the AP Rural Incentives Program and provides AP access to more students. The incentives program, established in the 2014-15 school year, created new AP programs in four rural districts and expanded AP offerings in 15 rural school districts in its first three years of operation. In its most recent school year, the program served 475 students, 44 percent of whom were free and reduced price lunch eligible students.

Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

About Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Stephanie works as a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, she worked as a Public Policy Fellow at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – where she found her love and passion for policy work. Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a Teach for America Corps Member in South Carolina, teaching high school and middle school math. Early on while obtaining her degree in Marketing from Florida International University, she worked in health care as a Patient Advocate and Unit Secretary. When she is not working, you can typically find her at a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, or engaging in some type of outdoor activity.