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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida drops, sort of, in AP passage rates



Calculus Florida ranks No. 11 this year in the percentage of graduating seniors passing AP exams, down from either No. 4 or No. 10 last year, according to results released by the College Board this morning.

Confused? You should be.   

A change in statistical methodology appears to be the culprit.

Bear with us: The AP passage rate is determined by dividing the number of graduating seniors who passed at least one AP test by the total number of graduating seniors. And the total number of graduating seniors is based not on Florida's own, internal counts, but on projections put together by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

In the past, WICHE went to each state to gather graduation numbers, the group's director of policy research, Brian Prescott, told the Gradebook. And when it got to Florida, somebody - Prescott's not sure if it was somebody with WICHE or somebody at the Florida Department of Education – decided that graduates who got special diplomas instead of standard diplomas should not be included.

Special diplomas are awarded to some students with disabilities.

Florida awards more than 6,000 of them each year.

Last year, WICHE decided that instead of going to each state for grad stats, it would get them all at once from the U.S. Department of Education. And the feds don't disaggregate special diplomas out of the mix. So, in WICHE's revised calculations, the number of Florida grads went up. And in the College Board's calculations, the percentage of AP passers went down. Got that?

(The WICHE report used by the College Board mentions this data change for Florida and a handful of other states on page 125.)

According to last year's College Board report, 38 percent of Florida's graduating seniors took at least one AP test in 2006-07, and 20.3 percent passed. That put Florida at No. 1 in participation and No. 4 in passing.

According to the revised numbers in this year's report, the 2006-07 percentages are now 32.6 percent and 17.5 percent. The revised rankings are now No. 3 and No. 10, respectively.   

In 2007-08, 34 percent of Florida's graduating seniors took an AP test, and 18.2 percent passed, the new report shows. That puts Florida, right now, at No. 4 in participation and No. 11 in passing.

Maryland is No. 1 in passage rates, at 23.4 percent, followed by New York, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Maine, Colorado and Utah.

The revised numbers still show Florida making steady gains in both AP participation and passage, up from 25.6 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively, in 2003.

Nationally, AP passage rates climbed to 15.2 percent last year, up from 14.4 percent in 2007 and 12.2 percent in 2003.

Ron Matus, state education reporter

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:13am]


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