2015 Advanced Placement results in Florida: Students – and particularly black students – underperform in math and science

Yesterday, the College Board released a report that congratulated Florida for the reach and equity of its Advanced Placement program.  Fanfare ensued (see article from redefinedonline.org).

But in my view, the state has little to celebrate when it comes to AP student performance in the most economically critical subjects of math and science, and particularly in how its most disadvantaged population – black students – perform in these most important subjects.

I’ll start with Florida’s overall performance on 2015 AP math and science exams.  While Florida is a national leader on AP exams in social science, English and world languages, the state’s performance on math and science exams is only average.  The plot below illustrates the number of students who passed AP exams in the several categories of subjects per 1000 Florida high school students.  It compares the Florida rates to the corresponding rates for the nation and for Massachusetts, which is the nation’s perennial leader in K-12 math and science education – and our toughest competitor.


Now I’ll move on to black student performance.  Black students are severely underrepresented among AP exam passers in all subjects except French.  But the subjects in which this underrepresentation is most severe include calculus, physics, computer science, statistics and chemistry.


Florida has not yet made achievement in K-12 math and science a priority.  When (and if) the state finally does so, it has a great deal of work to do.


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