A growing number of Iowa high school students are taking an “advanced placement” exam and Iowa students, collectively, ranked sixth in the country last year in their scores on those “A.P.” tests.
“Essentially what A.P. does is it provides students, while they’re still in high school, with a high-level college experience,” says Nick Colangelo, head of the University of Iowa’s Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
In 2008, almost 12,000 Iowa high school students took an “Advancement Placement” exam — that’s almost double the number of students who took an A.P. exam eight years ago.
“It tells us a lot of good news,” Colangelo says. “Overall what it says is that more students are taking A.P. exams and I think that’s excellent because what that says is that more students are willing to take that kind of a challenge.”
According to Colangelo, creation of an online Advanced Placement “academy” is one reason more Iowa high schoolers are taking the test.
“That has really opened up the gates to students taking A.P.” Colangelo says. “I think the other part that you’re seeing is that in those schools that have A.P. already that more and more students want to participate and take the exam…I would love to see it in every high school in Iowa.”
Colangelo has developed an index to measure student participation in A.P. exams and the latest index shows students at Cedar Rapids Washington were tops in the state when it came to participation. Cedar Rapids Kennedy came in second. Iowa City Regina, a private school, came in third, and Iowa City West, a public high school, came in fourth. Ames High was fifth.
Advanced Placement exams are offered in 37 subject areas and the tests are scored on a scale of one to five. Students who earn a score of three or better often earn college credit or get to skip entry-level college courses in that subject area.
In May of 2008, 211 Iowa high schools had at least one student take an A.P. exam.