Chicago Public Schools Announce More Than 20,000 High School Students Took an Advanced Placement Exam in 2014 School Year 

Chicago’s Students Demonstrating College Readiness with Increased Participation and Success in Advanced Placement Exams

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced today that more than 20,000 students participated in Advanced Placement (AP) coursework and took the accompanying exam last year, an increase of nearly ten percent from the previous year. Since Mayor Emanuel took office, CPS student participation in AP college-level coursework has increased by 40 percent, and Chicago ranks second in the nation of school districts with the most African-American students enrolled in AP courses, according to the College Board. CPS is a nationwide leader amongst large school districts for growth in AP participation by African-American and Latino students.

 “By providing students the opportunity to earn college credit, we can prepare our next generation of students with the skills that they need to graduate prepared for the rigors of today’s college coursework,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Last year more students in CPS outpaced their peers across the state with the number of college courses taken, demonstrating that they are mastering 21st century curriculum that prepares them for college and career success.”

 CPS is recognized on the AP Honor Roll in 2014 for the second year in a row. This acknowledgement is given for school districts that are both increasing access to AP course work, while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

“We know that access to challenging course work is an essential step in college and career readiness, and with more students across the city taking advantage of AP courses than ever before, we know that they will be ready for the next step upon graduation,” said CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett. “By providing the opportunity to both earn college credit and realize tuition savings, we hope to remove the financial barriers that some of our students might face.”

Over the past three years, the number of CPS high school students enrolled in AP courses has grown by 25 percent, with 30 percent more students passing their AP exams and earning college credit. The number of students reaching the pass rate of 3+ on AP exams, earning eligibility for college credit, has nearly doubled since 2011 for both African American and Latino students. While the number of exams administered each year continues to grow in CPS, this growth is substantiated by the number of students earning 3+ or higher on exams growing just as quickly, meaning that students are successfully participating in college level material, and will further be able to compete with their peers nationwide after high school.

AP exams give students the opportunity to pursue college level course work while still in high school. Research demonstrates that students who succeed on AP exam are more likely to graduate college on time, and have the potential to save time and money through placement and credit granting policies.

In addition to improving AP access and success for African American and Latino students,

Chicago has seen a 46 percent increase in the pass rate for African American students, and nearly a 70 percent increase in exams passed for Latino students. CPS attributes the growth in AP opportunities for students to the leadership of schools, with many principals implementing AP as a cornerstone of their instructional models.

“Under Mayor Emanuel's leadership, more Chicago students with the potential to succeed in AP courses have been able to access those opportunities,” said Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president, AP and Instruction. “More Latino students, in particular, are benefitting from the challenging coursework that research clearly shows is a vital component in helping students succeed as they transition to college and beyond. The College Board is proud to work with the Mayor and other leaders in the community to deliver increased opportunities for Chicago students.”

When participation in AP coursework is combined with college coursework opportunities offered by the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), one in five CPS students are participating in college-level coursework. This collaboration between CCC and CPS is designed to give college-ready high school juniors and seniors exposure to college-level courses, as well as the confidence to succeed in more academically challenging environments, and the opportunity to earn credits toward a college degree. This year, more than 40 schools across the District partner with CCC to offer dual-credit or dual-enrollment, which will provide more than 4,000 students citywide the opportunity to obtain college credit before graduation, increasing more than 3,000 opportunities since Mayor Emanuel took office. 

In 2014, 32,209 exams were administered across the District. In total, AP offers 34 different courses, and the District offers all of these across 117 high schools. The most popular courses are English Language, English Literature, US history, Psychology, and Human Geography, accounting for roughly half of all AP exams taken in the District.

AP and other college preparatory curriculum align with Pillar One of the District’s Action Plan, which calls for rigorous curriculum and high standards for all students. In addition to the access afforded by AP and dual-credit coursework with City Colleges, CPS has invested programs like IB and STEM that have been proven to prepare students for college and career success.

Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.