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Testing 2016

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New York

Gains in city's AP exam pass rate outpaced participation growth

This slide from a Department of Education presentation compares the number of students taking AP exams to the number of students passing them. As more city students took exams meant to earn them college credit and credentials last year, more passed. The finding, contained in College Board data that the Department of Education released today, bucks a common trend in standardized testing: As testing pools grow and become more diverse, average scores are likely to fall. That trend has played out nationally for years on the SAT, which most colleges require for admission: Nationally, SAT scores have inched downward each year as more students have taken the test, this year falling to a four-decade low. In New York City, 2.3 percent more students took the SAT last year than in 2011, but the average score stayed relatively flat. (The total number of students taking the SAT last year comprised 89 percent of the year's senior class, although not all test-takers were seniors.) The local average score fell by two points, compared to four points nationally even as the participation rate rose faster here. And the number of city high school students taking Advanced Placement tests, which show mastery in high-level courses and can confer college credits, jumped by 9.1 percent, according to the data. But the number of students passing the exams rose by even more — 12.7 percent — meaning that students' overall performance improved alongside participation. In total, 56 percent of students who attempted an AP exam last year passed, compared to about 54 percent in each of the previous four years. The AP gains come as the city Department of Education is pushing schools to expand access to college-level coursework to more students. Forty more high schools administered AP exams last year than in 2009, according to the department.