For the fourth consecutive year, Maryland ranks first nationwide in the percentage of graduating high school seniors who pass the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The national average in 2010 for graduating seniors passing the AP exams, as reported by The Baltimore Sun was 18 percent; Maryland however boasted 29 percent.
Despite the national ranking, Maryland school officials are concerned by the varying levels of access to AP courses and adequate instruction throughout the state.
Maryland’s success rates are largely the result of high-level teaching that starts long before high school, according to Trevor Packer, vice president of Advanced Placement for the College Board.
“The performance in Maryland is not spread evenly through districts,” he said.
Maryland, like other states, has been unable to provide the same access to AP tests for poor and black students. Only 8 percent of African-American graduates in Maryland had passed an AP test, compared to 35 percent of white students. Among those black students who did take the test, 28 percent were able to pass, while 70 percent of white students passed at least one test.
Interim state school Superintendent Bernard Sadusky said he is particularly concerned that some rural school districts, including Dorchester and Wicomico counties, do not have enough money to offer Advanced Placement classes to students. “Those students need to have the equal opportunity,” he said.
Access to classes is not the only issue, however. In Baltimore City, where AP classes are now offered in the majority of high schools, the pass rates are poor in all but a few of the city’s best high schools.