Fewer than half the students in the city’s nine high schools earned a high enough score on Advanced Placement tests to earn college credit, according to a newly released state report on the exams.
According to the report, 46 percent of students enrolled in high school in Corpus Christi, Calallen, Flour Bluff, Tuloso-Midway and West Oso school districts earned at least a score of 3 on the exams, the typical minimum required to earn college credit, though not all colleges accept the score.
Some colleges require a score of 4 or the maximum of 5 to earn credit in certain subjects.
Statewide, 50 percent of public school students earned at least a 3 in 2009-10, a slight decrease from 2008-09, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Data is not available for the most recent school year.
The AP program offers college-level classes in six academic areas: Art, English, history and social sciences, mathematics and computer science, sciences, and world languages. Some schools offer the full complement of 33 AP courses; others offer a limited assortment.
In the Corpus Christi Independent School District, where an average of 39 percent of students over five years earned a high enough score to earn college credit, officials have turned a sharp focus toward bolstering AP involvement.
“In the past year, we’ve certainly made it as high a priority as we do on our TAKS performance,” said Janis Jordan, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
She said the district aims to increase enrollment in AP courses among all student demographics, boost the number of students who take the end-of-course AP exams and bolster the numbers of test-takers earning scores of 4 and 5.
Fifteen percent of CCISD’s juniors and seniors in 2009-10 took at least one AP test, fewer than the state average of 22.5 percent, according to the Texas Education Agency.
That test-taking rate, which remained flat from 2008-09, was the lowest in nine years for the district, according to state data.
It’s not clear how many of those students were enrolled in AP classes.
The state did not provide district-level data showing how many AP students took end-of-course exams to earn college credit. However, statewide, about one-third of AP students did not take the exams, which is still an increase from 10 years ago, when 54 percent didn’t take the exams.
“We want to make sure AP is not an exclusive course,” Jordan said. “We want as many students to take it as possible. We believe AP, like dual credit, is a key step to student success.”
Among the high schools in Corpus Christi, only two — Calallen and King — historically saw more than half their students earn high enough scores on AP exams to potentially earn college credit.
Calallen had the highest five-year rate of students earning at least a 3, and also the highest rate of juniors and seniors taking the exams. During the past nine years, 28 percent of students in grades 11 and 12 took at least one AP test.
Superintendent Artie Almendarez attributed district success to its high standards, rigorous curriculum, the College Board’s certification of all teachers instructing AP and pre-AP classes, and the offering of AP courses instead of traditional honors courses.
“We don’t have any locally developed so-called honors classes,” he said. “If a student in our district at the middle school or high schools wants to take an honors-type class, they have to take either a pre-AP or an AP class.”
Districts often reward students who take AP classes by giving them extra weight, or points, on their grade-point average, which determines class rank.
By the numbers
119,743: Number of juniors and seniors in Texas public high schools who took AP exams in 2009-10
251,614: Number of AP exams taken statewide in 2009-10
$86: Cost of an exam (The state pays for $30 of that cost, and more for financially strapped students)
50.1: Percentage of students in 2009-10 who scored a 3 or above on the test, the minimum required for college credit
61.8: Percentage of public school districts that had at least one student take the exam in 2009-10