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Editorial: West Virginia ranks low on AP tests

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 12:30 AM

When we think about West Virginia's push to improve public education, our first thoughts are often students who do poorly in school or drop out along the way.

The state ranks near the bottom on achievement, and more than 20 percent of high school freshmen do not graduate, so those are big problems.

But West Virginia has some challenges with its best students as well.

The College Board's annual Advanced Placement report ranks the Mountain State 46th on the number of students who pass AP exams.

Nationally, about 19.5 percent of students earned a score of 3 or higher on at least one AP exam. In West Virginia, the percentage of 2012 graduates was 9.8 percent. In Kentucky, 15.6 percent earned a 3, and in Ohio, 13.8 percent.

West Virginia has shown some improvement. Over the past decade more West Virginia students are taking the tests, rising from 1,800 in 2002 to 3,700 in 2012, and more are passing as well.

But the success rate remains less than half the national average, and West Virginia is low in both the number of AP courses available and in the performance of students on the tests. For example, about 56 percent of West Virginia students who took an AP exam scored below the 3 level that qualifies students for college credits. Nationally, that percentage is only about 43 percent.

State officials say they are working to expand the number of courses offered, but schools also need to continue to raise the academic rigor that will help students succeed on the tests and keep up with students across the country.



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