Failure rate up as more students take AP

WASHINGTON, D.C. - More high school students than ever are taking Advanced Placement tests, but the failure rate is increasing as well, according to USA Today.

The newspaper's analysis showed that about 41 percent of the record 2.9 million students who took AP exams last year received a failing score. (To pass, students must earn at least a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5.) AP courses are intended to challenge high school students with college-level work; some colleges award early credit to students who pass course exams. The AP program is administered by the College Board.

While USA Today did not discuss Michigan individually, the College Board 2009 report shows that about 67,000 Michigan students took AP classes that year, with a failure rate of about 35 percent across all subjects. The average score varied widely. For example, students who took the AP exam in "Italian Language and Culture" scored an average of 2, while those who took "Calculus BC" scored an average 3.82

Regionally, USA Today reported, Southern states collectively saw the highest failure rate at 48.4 percent. However, College Board officials told USA Today that it is misleading to lump all tests together to derive a pass-fail rate. For example, scores on AP Physics tests are consistently increasing, while AP English Literature scores are dropping, USA Today reported.

The increased failure rate also may reflect the fact that more students — some with weak academic records — are taking AP courses and exams, USA Today reported.

USA Today, "Failure rate for AP tests climbing," Feb. 4, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "MME scores mainly unchanged," July 15, 2009