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AP Program Changes to Expand Access

In the 2019-20 school year, the AP Program will introduce new processes and resources to help more students earn college credit. They include:

Unit guides

The unit guides will eliminate guesswork by outlining course skills and content. They’ll also contain instructional approaches that offer teachers recommendations on integrating skills and content. The unit guides also include pacing and sequencing suggestions.

Personal progress checks

Formative AP questions that provide students with feedback on areas where they need to focus.

Progress dashboard

The progress dashboard will provide students with actionable feedback throughout the year with formative AP questions that can be assigned when students are ready.

AP question bank

The question bank is an online library of more than 15,000 real AP questions that teachers can use to create customized practice and tests for their students.

Streamlined exam ordering

AP coordinators will use an improved Registration and Ordering system to place AP Exam orders in the fall. With the new system, coordinators will have access to online student rosters that speed up exam ordering, and they’ll be able to review, adjust, and submit that information as the school’s exam order.

Student registration labels

To streamline the exam administration process, schools will receive a personalized set of AP ID registration labels for each student on an exam order. The registration labels will help eliminate over two million hours of pre-exam bubbling.

Exam day improvements

New tools will help AP coordinators organize their exam administration. Using the online rosters generated through the digital activation and ordering processes, coordinators can create and manage exam room assignments, proctors, and lists of examinees.

Fall exam registration

Research shows that fall exam registration, a best practice already in place at most AP schools, improves student outcomes.

Currently, half of all AP schools offer some sort of fall exam registration. In these schools, more students scored a 3 or higher on their AP Exams compared to students in schools that have spring registration. And even beyond score gains, educators in those schools told us that when students register in the fall instead of the spring, they’re more engaged and less likely to give up when faced with difficult coursework. So we decided to further study the effects of moving exam registration to the fall. In the 2017-18 school year, we piloted fall exam registration with 40,000 students in over 100 schools that displayed historically higher-than-average rates of AP students opting out of the exam. When students in the pilot schools registered in the fall, more earned scores of 3 or higher. There was a 12% increase in the number of scores of 3 or higher earned by minority students, and a 20% increase in the number of scores of 3 or higher earned by low-income students.

AP Exams Taken by Low-Income Students: Scores of 3+

And we saw this increase in scores of 3 or higher across multiple groups of students. Moving the time of registration made a difference across the board, but it had the strongest effect for students who are traditionally underrepresented in AP.

Scores of 3+ Increased Across Student Groups

Fall registration dramatically accelerates equity and access. In just one year of fall registration, schools sped up the work of AP equity—the share of AP Exam registrations for students of color—by seven years.

Learn more about the changes to AP for 2019.

States and Colleges Enacting AP Credit Policies

The opportunity to earn college credit is a key benefit of AP. Students can save time and money and get a head start on college degree completion with credits earned from AP success. The good news, for students, is that, more than ever, states and higher education institutions have set consistent AP credit policies. The number of states with an AP credit policy has more than doubled in recent years—from 14 in 2014 to 29 in 2018.

In addition to state AP credit policies, colleges continue to factor AP into admissions decisions. Higher education institutions enacted approximately 1,100 new or improved AP credit policies in 2017-18. A nationwide survey of college admissions officers found that the majority believe the rise of course availability makes AP more useful as an admissions credential. In a recent survey, 82% of more selective private institutions say the range of AP courses is extremely or very helpful in evaluating a candidate for admission. More than 3,800 U.S. and international colleges and universities received AP scores from students in 2018. The AP designation remains a powerful way to demonstrate a quality of learning that otherwise would not be visible to an admissions office.

Growth of AP in High Schools

More high schools are offering AP than ever before. Over the past five years (2013–2018), there has been a 14% increase in the number of public schools offering AP. During the same time period, the number of independent schools offering AP has grown from 3,887 to 5,179—a 33% increase. And over the past 10 years (2008–2018), the number of all schools participating in AP rose from 17,032 to 22,612.

AP Access for Low-Income Students

Thanks to the commitment of states across the country in 2018, the number of low-income students benefiting from AP increased this year. This is despite the elimination of dedicated federal funding. A total of 27 states and the District of Columbia recognized the importance of ensuring access for their low-income students and provided financial support.

State funding plays a critical role in expanding AP opportunities to low-income students. In states that contributed to reduce exam fees for low-income students in 2018, equity gaps continued to narrow.

By contrast, gaps in AP participation between low-income students and their peers widened in the states that provided no state-level funding for low-income students’ exam fees. In states that provided funding, students received on average a $37 per-exam state subsidy in 2018. Alongside College Board’s $32 fee reduction, the resulting fee charged to students was $16 per exam.

The College Board applauds states that prioritized funding for low-income students and encourages state and district leaders to recommit this support, as early as possible, for 2019 AP Exams. An early state commitment provides a valuable assurance to students and has been a critical factor in boosting AP participation rates.