The Baltimore Sun
August 18, 2013
The Advanced Placement data from high schools around Maryland show how great the academic divide is between the best students.
Students at the highest-performing high schools — from Dulaney High in Baltimore County to Severna Park in Anne Arundel to River Hill in Howard County — are taking numerous AP classes and passing them at rates far higher than the national average.
But the top students at lower-performing schools in the state had a much higher failure rate on the AP tests even when they got the same good grades in their classes.
For example, at New Town High School in Baltimore County, 59 percent of students who took an AP class at the school got an A or B in the course. But of those who got the good grades, only 18 percent took and were able to pass the AP test.
Douglas Ready, an associate professor of education and public policy at Teachers College at Columbia University who specializes in analyzing large-scale education data sets, analyzed 51,000 AP scores from the 2011-2012 school year for The Baltimore Sun. Responding to a public information act request, seven counties provided detailed data about exams and grades in the classes. Other districts provided less detailed information.
Across the districts, pass rates varied widely, from a high of 80 percent in Howard County to a low of 20 percent in Dorchester County. Besides Dorchester, two other districts had rates below 26 percent: Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.
Some students will take the class but not take the exam in May, and Ready found that the percentage of attempts varied widely between schools and counties.
Baltimore County had the lowest attempt rate: Three of four students took the exam for the course in which they were enrolled.
Across Baltimore City, students passed 25 percent of the tests they took. If students who attended the top four magnet schools — Polytechnic Institute, Western, City College and Baltimore School for the Arts — are excluded, only 119 students, or 11 percent, were able to pass in the remaining 24 high schools offering AP.
The pass rate in Baltimore County among those students who took exams was 66 percent, above the national average of 60 percent. At Dulaney, students passed 85 percent of the exams compared to 20 percent at Woodlawn.
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