The Advanced Placement program at Evanston Township High School was recognized Monday night for record student participation and rising scores.

“We are at an all-time high in student participation and student success,” declared Pete Bavis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, in his annual Advanced Placement report to the school’s Board of Education.

Last spring, he said, a record 988 students took one or more AP exams and 685 of them scored a 3 or higher on one or more of the AP exams, which by law is enough to qualify for college credit at any public university or public community college in Illinois.

Bavis noted that scoring a 3 or higher on four AP exams “can provide a semester’s worth of credit, potentially saving students thousands of dollars in the total cost of attendance at an Illinois public university.”

Once regarded as a relatively exclusive domain of white students at ETHS, a great deal of effort has been made in recent years to encourage students of color to enroll in AP courses, with the school providing academic supports to help them succeed in that endeavor.

In his report, Bavis noted that this past spring, some 159 African American students took the exams, representing a 61 percent increase since 2012, and that 65 of those students earned scores of 3 or higher, which represented a 91 percent increase during that period.

Hispanic students also increased AP participation by 49 percent since 2012, with a 51 percent increase in those earning a 3 or higher on the exams.

Bavis noted research that indicated that even attempting an AP class increases a student’s academic trajectory.

“Researchers have found that students who earned an AP exam score of 2,” he said, “had better college performance and higher four-year graduation rates than students who didn’t take an AP course.”

White students also turned in exemplary numbers, Bavis said, with 617 students representing a 19 percent increase since 2012 in students taking the exams and a 16 percent increase in the number earning a 3 or higher.

For the school as a whole, a total of 2,335 exams were taken this year, compared with 1,803 in 2012, with 1,450 exam scores of 3 or higher, compared with 1,253 five years ago.

Board member Jonathan Baum said he was particularly impressed by the fact that, even with a higher percentage of students taking AP courses, the percentage of students scoring at 3 or above had also increased.

“It shows we are not lowering our standards by pushing more students into AP classes,” he said.

Bavis’ written report to the board is available on the school’s website.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Creative Statistics!

    I’ve looked at the report; funny how they are defining “all time high of student success,” since the NUMBER of tests getting a 3 or higher has gone up since 2006, the PERCENTAGE of tests earning a 3 or higher has gone down steadily:

    82% (2006-07) / 69% / 67% / 71% / 66% / 64% / 62% (2016-2017)

    I don’t know why they think we’re fooled when the data is out there for everyone to see.

    1. Accurate but not Meaningful

      The ‘numbers’ may be correct, but the report does not show what people should understand.

      Students, from teacher, parents, and other pressures, lead more to take the exams than was true even in the recent past. Thus the percent of 3+ could be expected to go down unless the education they were given improved or improved along more students..

      The actual meaning of AP scores is still being debated and needs more study. A few professors have evaluated those passing AP and those who did not take them, for freshmen in those subjects and found some evidence 3 and below had more difficulty in freshmen classes. 

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