How has our “AP Culture” Changed?

By Alison Smith

Take a look at how many APs we’re taking now compared to in the past

If you feel like you’re seeing AP books absolutely everywhere, you aren’t imagining things; more East students are taking AP classes than in the past. In the spring of 1997, the first year East was open, only 46 students took AP exams. Twelve years later, in 2009, six hundred and six students took the College Board’s four-hour AP exams. In total, those students tallied a whopping total of 1412 exams taken.
Not only are more students taking APs than in the past, but those same students are also taking more APs each. In 1997, the students who took AP exams took an average of 1.22 exams each, while in 2009 the average AP student took 2.33 exams.
Surprisingly, the increase in the number of APs taken hasn’t meant that more students are taking AP exams and failing them. In fact, the rate of passing exams has stayed fairly consistent over the years at about 80% of East’s AP exams receiving a score of 3 or higher.
East isn’t the only school in which APs are gaining influence. Elizabeth Gordon, a counselor at Jordan High School, says that the situation is similar at Jordan.
“Each year we have more students taking AP courses,” Gordon said.
Susie Schneider, an admissions officer at Duke, agrees that applicants from the Triangle area and across the country are generally taking more APs than in previous years.
“The program is becoming more widespread and more classes are available,” Schneider said.
The AP program’s growing influence at East and elsewhere is indisputable. Although rising numbers of students taking AP tests is not necessarily cause for concern in itself, it makes the question “Are APs helping us or hurting us?” all the more relevant and worth discussing.

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