Hispanic and African-Americans in Texas public schools made the largest gains on their Advanced Placement test performance last school year, the Texas Education Agency announced Tuesday.
Students who complete an AP course, designed with college-level rigor in mind, can earn a grade of one to five on the AP test. Passing is generally considered a 3 or a higher on the five-point scale, and can lead to college credit -- which can spare students some tuition fees.
Compared to the previous year, almost 14 percent more Hispanic students and 12 percent more African-American students scored a three or higher in 2011-12, according to College Board data provided by the TEA. Advanced Placement is one of the College Board's programs.
The number of Texas students overall taking AP exams increased by 4 percent and the number who earned a three or better increased by 9.1 percent, data showed.
Nationally, the increases in test takers and high-scorers are higher. The number of public school students across the country taking AP tests grew by 6.4 percent during 2011-12, and the number who earned a three or better increased by 9.7 percent, data showed.
In Houston ISD, the largest school district in Texas, more students took and passed AP exams, continuing a steady climb seen over the last few years. However, performance varied widely at individual campuses, and students did not do well enough on most of the tests to qualify for college credit.
Specifically, HISD high school students earned passing scores on 7,106 AP exams this year, up about 450 from last year.
While the increase is a positive sign, many HISD students struggled. Of the 23,227 exams they took this year, they passed 31 percent. The district experienced the same passing rate in 2011, when students took 21,347 AP exams.
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