Nearly 27 percent of Virginia’s 2021 public high school graduates demonstrated college-level achievement on at least one Advanced Placement examination, according to data released today by the College Board, the nonprofit organization that manages the AP program.
The College Board reported that 26.9 percent of the commonwealth’s 2021 graduating seniors earned a score of three or higher on at least one AP test. This represented a slight decrease from 2020, when 27.9% of graduating seniors earned qualifying scores.
The commonwealth tied for ninth in the nation in AP performance according to the College Board. Nationwide, 22.5 percent of graduating seniors achieved scores of three or higher.
“I congratulate all of our 2021 graduates who accepted the challenge of these rigorous courses and examinations,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said. “While celebrating their success, we also must recognize that since 2015 the commonwealth has fallen from third in the nation to ninth as the number of Virginia students taking AP exams has declined and participation in other states has grown. It is time for a serious discussion about what we can do at both the state and local levels to broaden access to AP courses and remove barriers to participation.”
Disaggregated by student group, the percentages of Virginia 2021 graduates who earned a qualifying score on at least one AP examination during high school are as follows:
Asian students: 55.9 percent
American Indian students: 20 percent
Black students: 8.9 percent
Hispanic students: 21.9 percent
White students: 29.5 percent
Although colleges and universities set their own policies for awarding credit, a score of three or higher on an AP test is generally accepted as indicative of college-level work.
Virginia students earned qualifying scores on 80,893 AP examinations in 2021. According to the College Board, this represents an estimated 242,679 college credits. At an average rate of $471 per college credit hour, the College Board estimates the total potential cost savings for the commonwealth’s students and families was $114,221,725.
The 10 most popular AP courses among Virginia’s 2021 graduating seniors were — in descending order — English Language and Composition, U.S. History, U.S. Government and Politics, World History: Modern, Psychology, English Literature and Composition, Calculus AB, Environmental Science, Biology and Human Geography.