Editorial - State AP scores need work
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 23:02
West Virginia is known for many things – some of them good, some of them not so good and some which only inspire intrigue.
The Charleston Gazette reported Wednesday that West Virginia is among the bottom five states in the nation in terms of its pass rate for high school students taking Advanced Placement courses for college credit. Ranked No. 46 overall, West Virginia graduates who achieved a 3 or higher on the test’s 5-point scale stands at 9.8 percent, well below the national average of 19.5 percent.
This comes as an improvement for the state – the number of students taking and passing the tests has steadily increased in the last 10 years, according to the report. As it stands, 20 percent of high school graduates in the state ever take an AP exam.
There are myriad underlying reasons for the disparity between students in the Mountain State and elsewhere, many of which are not readily clear. Access and availability are important considerations; compared to many other regions of the country, far fewer West Virginia students have access to AP courses at their high schools.
In 2011, the state Department of Education teamed with the Center for Professional Development, the Department of Education and the Arts, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the College Board in signing the WVAP2014 agreement, which was designed to create policies and practices to ensure 25 percent of the state’s high school graduating class will participate in one or more AP courses, that 15 percent of the graduating class will score a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, and that the equity and excellence gap for minority students will be eliminated by 2014.
In furthering this aim, 2013 is the first year the Department of Education will require teachers to attend AP summer institutes every three years and fall institutes every two years. Despite its lackluster performance in the past, West Virginia’s overall improvement in testing garnered it the AP Beacon Award last year for its dedication to increasing student achievement and college preparedness.
The state has taken steps to improve its commitment to education and should be commended – whether that commitment can result in a better grade remains to be seen.