Compared to five years ago, the number of Harford County public high school students who took at least one Advanced Placement exam shot up by 377 students in 2011 to a total of 1,525 students, an increase of nearly 33%. The increase over the five-year span came as the population of potential AP test-takers, students in grades 10 through 12, declined by 1% to approximately 8,780 students. The average number of AP tests taken per student remained steady at 1.5 tests per student.
AP exams are offered in a variety of subjects and provide an indication of college readiness, with some colleges accepting passing scores for college credit. The percentage of AP exams with passing scores dropped four points in HCPS, from 64.5% in 2007 to 60.5% in 2011, a 6% decrease.
Five-Year AP Exam Results: 2007 to 2011
The table below, provided to The Dagger upon request from HCPS, shows the number of exams given in eighteen different AP subjects every year since 2007, along with the percentage of exams earning passing scores. AP exams are graded on a five-point scale, with a grade of 3 or higher generally considered passing. Data for 2011 also include the national passing rate in each subject.
AP Exam Results for 2011
Among the AP subjects with at least 99 test takers in 2011, the highest percentage of exams with passing scores were in English Language (87.2%), Statistics (74.3%) and Psychology (72.6%) and English Literature (67.9%). The lowest passing rates were in Biology (33.3%), World History (41.4%), U.S. History (47.2%) and Calculus AB (54.8%). Fewer than 99 exams were taken in Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Calculus BC, Government & Politics, Spanish, French, German, Art, Music Theory and Human Geography.
Also in 2011, the number of AP exams taken was flat compared to the previous year, but a total of 1,525 students took an AP exam in at least one subject, an increase of 98 students over last year, according to an earlier press release from Harford County Public Schools.
Disparities Among HCPS High Schools in Number of AP Subjects Offered in 2011
AP exams in three subjects, English Literature, Calculus AB and U.S. History, were taken by students in all ten Harford County public high schools in 2011, but not all schools offered AP exams in the same number of subjects.
Among the factors influencing AP offerings are the number of AP teachers within HCPS, the distribution of such teachers among schools and the student demand within schools.
Of the 21 AP subject exams taken by HCPS students in 2011, the least number of subjects was offered at Harford Technical High School, where students took exams in four subjects. Harford Tech is a magnet high school for career/technical education that admits county students based on academic record. After Harford Tech, exams in the least number of AP subjects were offered at Joppatowne and Havre de Grace, where students took exams in seven and nine subjects, respectively. The greatest number of AP subjects was offered at C. Milton Wright (18) Aberdeen (17), Bel Air (17) and Fallston (16).
2011 School-by-School AP Performance By Subject
On a scoring scale of 1 to 5, with a score of 3 considered passing, performance in 2011 ran the gamut in HCPS, with some schools showing 100% of exams in some subjects earning passing scores and others showing zero. AP results for 2011 are broken down by school and by subject area in the tables below. All data was provided to The Dagger upon request from HCPS: