In its just-released Quality Counts evaluation of the states, Education Week cites Florida’s performance in Advanced Placement courses. The magazine ranked Florida 3rd in the nation for both “High AP Test Scores” and “Change in AP Test Scores”.
The state’s aggressive approach to the AP program can be illustrated by its success in AP English Language and Composition, which is the first course in the two-year AP English sequence, and which earns those who pass its exam credit for the first “freshman English” class at Florida’s public universities. Among Florida’s 2012 high school graduates, 22.0% had taken the course and 11.2% had passed with an exam score of 3 or better. In both cases, the state far exceeded the national averages – only 12.2% of the nation’s 2012 high school grads had taken AP English Language and Composition, and 7.2% had passed.
But in Florida, those results don’t extend into the AP courses that help students prepare for college majors in science and engineering – the courses in calculus, biology, chemistry and physics. The first AP Calculus course, called AP Calculus AB, has become an critical course for students intending to major in engineering or physics. Students who arrive at the state’s universities intending to major in these disciplines and who have not earned AP Calculus AB credit start a semester or more behind their peers.
So it’s a bit disturbing that the percentage of Florida high school grads who have AP Calculus AB credit from passing the exam is only 4.1%, equal to the national average. Of Florida’s grads, 8.1% had taken the course, while the corresponding number for the nation is 7.2%.
Anybody who thinks more Florida students should have access to our economy’s most lucrative careers – engineering, math and science – should be disturbed by this hole in the state’s AP program.