The news that more Hispanic students are taking and passing the AP exam comes at a time when 41 percent of the Hispanic population in the US above the age of 20 does not have a regular high school diploma, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
The overall percentage of American high school students who passed an AP test increased modestly between 2009 and 2010, rising from 16 to 16.9 percent.
Despite their progress, Hispanic students were still somewhat underrepresented among those who passed an AP test last year. While Hispanic students were 14.6 percent of those who passed an AP test, they made up 16 percent of AP test takers overall and 16.8 percent of the graduating high school class of 2010. Some 54.5 percent of all Hispanic test takers passed at least one AP test, compared with 59.6 percent of all students and 61.8 percent of white students.
That’s why Sue Landers, executive director of the AP program for the College Board, says more work needs to be done to improve minority test performance. “We would really like to see the diversity of our country reflected in our AP classrooms and in the demographics of students who succeed on the AP test,” she says in an interview.
For that reason, Ms. Landers explains, the AP program has made a “concerted effort” to recruit test takers from minority groups. Since 2001, the number of African-American AP test takers more than tripled, increasing from 23,906 to 73,270. Yet African-Americans remain underrepresented among AP test takers. While African-American students made up 14.6 percent of the 2010 senior class, they made up only 8.6 percent of AP test takers and a mere 2.3 percent of those who passed an AP exam that year.