Mayor touts increased AP exam participation in city

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to AP students at the Young Woman’s Leadership School in Astoria.
Courtesy of Mayor’s office/Edwin J. Torres
By Patrick Donachie

The city marked big increases in the rate of students taking Advanced Placement exams in 2016, while an even greater percentage of students saw boosts in their performance on the exams.

The announcement was made by Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday morning at the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria.

De Blasio said the increases were the result of his administration’s “AP for All” agenda, which intends to offer at least five AP classes to 75 percent of city public high school students by 2018, and to all city public high school students by 2021.

“We are shaking the foundation of this system by putting rigorous AP courses in every neighborhood in every borough,” de Blasio said. “The increases in participation and performance we see today – particularly among black and Hispanic students – show that we’re moving in the direction of equity and excellence and I look forward to the work ahead.”

De Blasio referenced particularly notable gains for black and Hispanic students, both in terms of participation and performance.

The mayor announced that 14.1 percent more black students and 9.9 percent more Hispanic students took an AP exam last year compared to 2015, and 18 percent more black students and 10.8 percent more Hispanic students passed an AP exam in 2016 in comparison to the prior year.

The citywide increases were similarly notable, with the mayor saying 8.4 percent more students took an AP exam in 2016, rising from 41,419 students to 44,906, a city record, in 2016.

The number of students passing an AP exam rose by 8.2 percent. In Queens, 7.2 percent more students took an AP exam in 2016 compared to 2015, while 10.1 percent more students passed an AP exam, the highest performance increase of any borough in the city.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and several Queens lawmakers, including Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), the chairman of the Council’s Education Committee, and state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside), the Assembly’s Education Committee chair, pledged their support for the increase.

Nolan said she had benefitted from AP classes and exams in her own education and Dromm pledged to continue working with the de Blasio administration.

“These historic results demonstrate what a substantial investment in public education can do,” Dromm said. “Our schools continue to move in the right direction. I am proud of the record number of high school students who toiled long hours in order to pass their AP exams.”

The city said AP courses had been added to 70 new schools since 2013 and 63 high schools added new AP classes this year as a part of the “AP for All” initiative, 31 of which had not offered AP courses the previous year, and 71 high schools benefitted from pre-AP support that the mayor’s office claimed would prepare students and teachers for AP courses in upcoming years.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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