SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL OP-ED ONLINE
by Tom Butler
Florida had the second greatest increase in the total number of public school students earning a passing score on an AP exam when compared to all other states from 2006 to 2007. In addition, Florida leads all states in the number of African-American and Hispanic students passing AP exams and has eliminated the Hispanic student achievement gap.
"I applaud Florida's high school students who have accepted the challenge of tackling the extra class work associated with Advanced Placement courses," said Governor Crist. "Congratulations also to the dedicated teachers who focus their efforts on guiding and preparing students for AP exams."
Florida's public school AP participation rate also outpaces the national participation rate. Nearly 40 percent of Florida's 2007 graduating class took at least one AP exam during high school.
"Research shows us that students who take AP courses are not only more likely to go to college, they are more likely to graduate on time as well," said Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. "As we work to increase our AP participation even further, we must encourage students to see themselves as college-bound and help them realize that the dream of college is firmly within their reach."
"Florida is a national leader in increasing the number of public school students who are taking and succeeding on AP Exams. Traditionally underrepresented students in Florida have been particularly successful," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "Change in education does not come overnight, and Florida's achievements come from long-term support by the legislature and governors."
In 2006, approximately one-third of AP students who went on to a Florida community college or university earned an average of 11 college credits prior to finishing high school. That credit translates into about four courses and an average cost savings of $745.80 for Florida public community college students and $1,228.48 for Florida public university students. Complete data comparing the graduating class of 2007 and entry into Florida colleges and universities is not yet available.
"The AP program provides a wonderful opportunity for students to challenge themselves and to gain a college level education while still in high school," said Stanton College Preparatory (Duval County) senior Steven Pietrasiuk. "AP courses have allowed me to earn approximately 30 credit hours towards my college education, providing me with a bright future and the promise of success."
To learn more about Florida's unique partnership with the College Board, log on to http://www.collegeboard.com/floridapartnership. For more information on Florida's participation and performance on AP, visit http://www.fldoe.org/evaluation/.
Tom Butler works for the Florida Department of Education.