Alabama is celebrating statewide achievement in Advanced Placement courses for the 2020 school year, even as students and teachers around the state adjust to COVID-19.
In May 2020, 26,269 Alabama students took 38,831 AP exams, earning 18,430 qualifying scores, according to a recent press release from the Alabama State Department of Education. A piece of great news from this year’s results is students of color earned 2,509 total qualifying scores — the largest amount in Alabama history.
A qualifying score on an AP exam can earn students college credit during high school. This year’s qualifying scores earned by Alabama students could potentially save Alabama families over $27 million in college tuition.
COVID-19 and school closures caused a decline in AP exam participation, but students and teachers still persevered. While AP exam participation dropped 20 percent, there was only a 5 percent decline in qualifying scores across the state compared to 2019. This decline during the 2020 testing cycle follows a nationwide trend.
"With the COVID-19 situation that arose during the spring, we were skeptical about how many of our students would be able to attempt the AP test but we were excited to see that over 70 percent of our AP students attempted their tests,” Dekalb County’s Crossville High School principal John Peppers said in a press release. The school’s population is over 70% Hispanic. “We had several students that did not have internet access so they went to the public library parking lot or somewhere that they could gain access to Wi-Fi. We even had one student that sat in a fast food restaurant parking lot to take their tests and passed the test.”
Success in expanding AP course offerings and opportunities for students is made possible through ALSDE’s partnership with A+ Education Partnership’s A+ College Ready program.
ALSDE has partnered with A+ College Ready since 2008 and credits this partnership for helping thousands of Alabama students become college and career ready.
Prior to beginning to partner with A+ College Ready in spring 2008, only 8,841 Alabama students took 14,634 AP exams. In spring 2019, 26,718 Alabama students took 49,572 exams. These numbers also reflect significant growth in the number of students of color and low-income students who are participating and succeeding in AP.
“I could not be more proud of the Alabama AP teachers, students, and school leaders who continued to work incessantly in a virtual format after the abrupt closing of schools last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tammy Dunn, Vice President of Academic Affairs for A+ College Ready. “Kudos to every person in Alabama who went the extra mile in extraordinary times to help students earn qualifying scores on these exams.”
A program of the statewide education advocacy organization A+ Education Partnership, A+ College Ready is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that works with Alabama schools, the ALSDE, and public and private funders to maximize the number of students who are prepared for college or any other pursuit upon graduation from high school.
There are currently 198 Alabama High schools represented in 13 cohorts. The original goal of the program is to strengthen the teaching of AP mathematics, science, and English courses, to build enrollment in these courses, and to increase the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on AP exams in Alabama public schools.
The work has evolved to concentrate equally on the preparation of a robust and diverse pipeline of students in Grades 6-10 who will be prepared for the rigorous coursework in high school, including Advanced Placement.