Urban school districts can improve the performance of African-American students on the College Board's exams by offering a rigorous curriculum beginning in elementary school, expanding access to gifted-and-talented programs, and recruiting students with high PSAT and EXPLORE scores to enroll in AP courses, a report from the finds.
The report, (15 pages, PDF), highlights six urban school systems — the and school districts in Georgia, the in Texas, in Kentucky, in Florida, and the — that, between 2008 and 2011, raised the AP pass rates of African-American students faster than those of their white peers while increasing or maintaining their participation rates in AP-level courses.
In addition to identifying gifted-and-talented students early and expanding access to AP programs, successful practices in these districts included providing extra academic and social support to students, dramatically increasing the number of AP course offerings, providing additional teacher training and professional development, and educating parents about the benefits of the AP program.
Based on an analysis of AP data from the seventy-five districts that are eligible for the , the report also found that in nearly all districts, the gap in both AP passing rates and participation rates between African-American students and their white counterparts is significant. While four other districts showed gains among Hispanic students that outpaced those of their white peers, 58 percent of the districts demonstrated no improvement on either African-American pass or participation rates, or both.
"AP is an important predictor of college success when teachers and students use AP's standards as an inspiration, developing through practice the most important academic skills needed in college," said Trevor Packer, the College Board's senior vice president for AP and instruction. "Data identify thousands of minority and low-income students who have the academic potential to succeed in Advanced Placement courses, but lack access or encouragement to pursue such opportunities. We celebrate the AP teachers and students of these six urban districts for their extraordinary accomplishments. Their successes show that with the right support systems and best practices, broader access to AP can provide a diversity of students with a stronger foundation for college and career success."