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Advanced Placement: State Provides Accountability Incentives for AP Courses

Advanced Placement (AP), first established in 1955 as a program for gifted students, has seen tremendous growth since the 1990s. This database provides information on state policies and programs to support AP offerings in the states.

State provides accountability incentives for AP courses: Schools need to be held publicly accountable for providing AP courses. Requiring schools and districts to publish disaggregated data on course taking and AP test results will help achieve this goal. The states below have one or more of the following types of policies:

  • Policies tying AP offerings to school accreditation. Currently two states -- Colorado and Michigan -- include AP participation as an indicator for public school accreditation.
  • Policies including AP course taking and test taking data on school accountability report cards, etc. Fifteen states -- Arkansas, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin -- include AP participation in school, district and/or state report cards and/or other accountability rating systems.

Louisiana authorizes but does not require the state data system to report AP participation. Nebraska requires districts to report honors and AP participation only for high-ability learners. This database does not include state policies that require schools or districts to report AP course- and exam-taking but do not include these in accreditation indicators or require the department to release these data to the public.

This information was collected from statutes and state board regulations from April to August 2006, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

Sources for all data points are accessible through this link.

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay, project manager, ECS High School Policy Center. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org.

State provides accountability incentives for AP courses
Arkansas Yes. Districts must annually report by grade level, economic status and ethnicity the number of students taking AP courses, the number taking AP exams, and the percent of students scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams.

In addition, the commissioner of education is authorized to require every district superintendent to file a written statement with the Arkansas Department of Education that the district is in compliance with § 6-16-1201 et seq. concerning advanced placement.
California Yes. Every school accountability report card must include the number of AP courses offered, by subject.
Colorado Yes. District accreditation indicators include (1) Number of students taking one or more AP exams; (2) Number of students enrolled in AP classes; (3) The percentage of those students obtaining a passing grade on an AP exam as defined in the accreditation contract.
Indiana Yes. Districts' annual performance reports must include the percentage of students taking AP tests and the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on the tests. In addition, as part of the state accountability system, the state board is directed to establish criteria for the exemplary and commendable categories for required improvement in three indicators, one of which is AP test scores "expressed as a percentage of the members of a particular graduating class."
Kentucky Yes. Once the statewide student database is implemented, each high school and district's accountability report card must include a list "a list of the advanced placement subjects offered by grade, the total number of students enrolled in each advanced placement class, and these enrollments disaggregated by gender, race, and free and reduced lunch participation. The number of students who take the advanced placement tests and the average advanced placement examination scores by subject [must] be disaggregated by gender, race, and free and reduced lunch participation...."

In addition, in calculating a school's academic indices, a bonus point must "be added to the transition to adult life calculation for each graduate who" earns a "3" or higher on 3 AP exams. 
Louisiana No. However, the state data collection system may also provide for regular per-school collection of numbers of students in AP classes.
Maryland Yes. State data system annually reports students taking AP courses.
Michigan Yes. If a district wants all of its schools to be accredited, it must submit an annual report for each school to the state board. The report must include:
(1) The number of "college level equivalent courses" (including Advanced Placement and IB courses) offered in the school and district
(2) The number and percentage of students enrolled in at least 1 AP or IB course during the previous school year
(3) The number and percentage of these students who took an AP or IB exam
(4) The number and percentage whose score on the exam was at or above the level recommended by the testing service for college credit.

The state department of education is required to submit a report to the legislature, "aggregated for statewide and intermediate school district totals, using the information submitted by school districts."

Schools in the district must also distribute the annual education report to the public at an open meeting each year.
Missouri Yes. The department of elementary and secondary education must have a scoring rubric for AP courses as part of the Missouri school improvement program. The rubric, which must recognize the difficulty of providing such courses in rural districts, must "[take] into account population density in districts and localized teacher shortages in academic specializations, and differentially [reward] districts for accomplishing delivery of such courses through electronic media under such circumstances."
Nebraska Not for all students, and not explicitly regarding AP. Districts are required to report "the number of identified high ability learners participating in" AP courses or honors level course work.
New Hampshire Yes. Districts must annually report to the department of education, for each school and the district as a whole, the number of graduating students participating in AP programs. Data must be disaggregated as required by federal law. These data are included in the annual public report card, the "New Hampshire School District Profiles," and reported for the state as a whole as well as for individual districts and schools.
New Jersey Yes. District report cards must indicate, both for the district as a whole and for each high school, the percentage of students in AP courses.
New Mexico No. Districts must report to the public education department the number of students enrolled in AP courses, but districts are not required to include this information in public accountability report cards.
Oklahoma Yes. One of the indicators in the state's Academic Performance Index (API) is "Advanced Placement credit awarded at one of three levels based on student AP examination scores." Academic Excellence is one of the three major components of the index; within Academic Excellence, AP receives a 30% weight, the second-highest weight after ACT data.
Texas Yes. In addition to the state's standard accountability system, the state awards schools a "gold performance rating program based on enhanced performance." For high schools, "[t]he performance standards on which a gold performance rating is based should include ... the percentage of students who take advanced placement tests and student performance on those tests...."
Utah Yes. School performance reports indicate the number of students taking AP courses; the number and percent of students taking a specific AP course who take the AP exam to receive college credit for the course; and the number and percent of students who pass the AP test.
Virginia Yes. High schools' School Performance Report Cards must include the percentage of students taking AP courses and AP exams.
West Virginia Yes. School report card data are "reported for comparison at the school level with county, state, regional, and national data." Three of the indicators included on such report cards are (1) the percentage of students in grades 10-12 who took an (1) AP course; (2) the percentage of students in grades 10-12 who took an AP exam; and (3) the percentage of 12th graders who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam.

The state likewise uses "indicators of exemplary student, school and school system performance and progress ... for determining whether accredited and approved schools and school systems should be granted exemplary status." One of these indicators for high schools is that 5% or more of a school's students successfully complete AP, dual credit and honors courses.

2007 S.B. 657 likewise authorizes the state board, for purposes of accreditation, to award schools and/or districts bonus points or credits for advanced placement percentages.
Wisconsin Yes. School and district accountability reports must indicate the percentage of students participating in AP courses.


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