Nevada continues to be the fastest improving state when it comes to the number of students passing the Advanced Placement exam, showing college readiness, the Nevada Department of Education reported Wednesday.
Nevada has seen the largest five-year increase and the largest three-year increase in the percentage of public high school students who have passed the AP exam. Nevada saw an increase of 6.6 percent over the past three years and 8.2 percent over the past five years of students earning a 3 or higher on their AP Exams.
In May, Nevada high school graduates took a total of 18,878 AP Exams that resulted in scores of 3 or higher, which demonstrates college readiness.
In a report given last fall, Carson High principal Tasha Fuson said 75 percent of CHS students who took the AP exam scored a 3 or higher compared with 52 percent for the rest of the state. Passing scores of a 3 indicate a student would receive a C in a freshman college course, 4 indicates a B and 5 indicates an A.
CHS has seen an increase in AP students and testing during the last five years. In 2013, 186 students took 325 exams. In 2016-17, 234 students took 500 exams, which means about 30 percent of CHS graduates passed an AP exam as compared to 24.7 percent in the state, which ranked 14th in the nation.
Nationally, 22.8 percent passed an AP exam. Massachusetts had the highest rate with 32.1 percent passing an AP exam. Nevada has shown tremendous improvement since 2007 when only 14.2 percent passed an AP exam.
As for the state’s public schools, 20,697 students — an increase of 13.3 percent — took 36,850 AP exams as of last May.
“We are very pleased with all the Carson City students preparing themselves for successful college and career experiences through ACT and AP exams,” Carson City School District Superintendent Richard Stokes said. “Congratulations are in order for all of these students as well as their teachers and parents.”
“Another important thing is when you have more tests given and students taking those tests, scores may go down,” Fuson said last fall. “But that didn’t happen at CHS. The passing rate is well above the state.”
Part of the increase is attributed to the variety of AP classes CHS offers, on top of implementing Western Nevada College’s Jump Start program.
CHS Jump Start students have a 92 percent pass rate in college credit courses.
“It’s important to also note the success of our Jump Start program where more than 92 percent of students passed college credit courses,” Stokes said. “We’ve got great students who want to challenge themselves by taking these upper-level college courses. They are not afraid of some extra work.”
CHS is planning to add AP classes in economics and geography and has added four AP classes this year: Art history, stats, music theory, and computer science.
“Our high school graduates are the fastest improving in the nation on the AP Exam,” said Steve Canavero, state superintendent of public instruction. “At an average rate of $242 per credit hour, the total potential cost savings for our state’s students and families was nearly $14 million. That’s good for our economy and the development of the skilled workforce that Nevada’s new economy is demanding.”
Nevada is focused on expanding participation in the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) course. In December 2016, Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Nevada would partner with the College Board and Code.org to expand computer science coursework in the state. Of the 304 Nevada students who took the initial AP CSP exam last May, 66 percent earned a score of 3 or higher.
“I would like to call out the Clark County School District for going above and beyond in promoting the AP Exams for low income students,” said Seng-Dao Yang Keo, NDE director of the Office of Student and School Supports. “Using Title I, district and state grant funds, CCSD AP exam takers received $698,164 in AP exam assistance.”
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