The number of Advanced Placement exams taken in the
High school students take the rigorous exams for an extra academic challenge and, if they pass, to receive college credit or to be placed in a more advanced course.
The number of AP course offerings in the district increased by more than 12,000, a 34% increase from the 2006-07 school year.
Michael Lovelady, an advanced placement coordinator for L.A. Unified, attributes greater AP participation to opening enrollment to all students in 2010, and a fee waiver program that covers the bulk of exam costs for low-income students. He also pointed to training and support for AP teachers, partnerships with programs that prepare students for an AP track and other initiatives.
Despite a districtwide enrollment decline since 2006-07 of 13% — about 23,000 students — 7,000 more students have pursued AP courses, a bump of 33%.
The number of minority students taking the tests also jumped. This year, 30,000 Latino students took the exams, up 89% from 16,000 in 2006-07. The number of African American students increased 29% during the same time period to 2,290 from 1,770.
Participation in AP courses and exams has increased in other metropolitan school districts as well. Last year, students took 35,590 tests in the
The number of students enrolled in AP courses in
In Los Angeles, with 39% to 42% of students achieving a passing score, the district's pass rate has been stable since 2006-07.
Van Nuys High School had the highest rate of students passing exams this year at 71.6%.
"There's a very large academic culture here on campus," said Henry Song, the school's magnet coordinator. "There's no magic secret. It's having teachers dedicated to the [AP] program and encouraging the students."
In 2013, California ranked sixth in the U.S. for the number of high school graduates achieving a passing score or higher, outpacing the national average by nearly 7%.
The nonprofit College Board administers the AP tests. They are scored on a numerical scale from 1 to 5 with 3 considered the minimum passing score.