Monday numbers: A closer look at students taking advanced courses in North Carolina’s schools

By: - December 5, 2022 6:00 am
student of color in a classroom

North Carolina lawmakers want to study the effectiveness of programs designed to increase the number of minority male teachers. Photo: Adobe Stock

In 2014, the General Assembly passed legislation, based on a similar law in Florida, to increase access and encourage broader participation in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, and the Advanced International Cambridge Examinations program.

The rigorous courses allow high school students and academically advanced middle school students to sample college-level work and earn college credits.

North Carolina pays exam fees for all AP, IB and ACIE courses. Exam costs were often barriers for low-and moderate-income families.

NC Department of Public Instruction staffers report that the law is largely working as intended.

Although the percentage of students in North Carolina taking advanced-level exams decreased by 3.1% in 2021, the state decline was less than the nationwide drop of 4.7%. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s passing rate on the rigorous tests increased by 13.3%.

Black students made gains with the number taking AP exams increasing by 1.2% and the number passing exams increasing by 36.7% compared to 35.2% nationwide. Similarly, the number of Latinx students passing AP exams increased by 24.7% in North Carolina compared to 24.1% nationally.

The State Board of Education is required to submit a report on advanced courses to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by Dec. 15 each year.

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at students taking advanced courses in North Carolina’s schools:

80,271 — Number of students taking at least one AP course this school year — this a 10.6 % increase over the 72,577 students who did so last year

67,889 — Number of students who took 121,919 AP exams last school year

70,028 — Number of AP exams on which students received a proficient score

2.2%  — Percentage decrease in Latinx students taking AP exams from 2021-2022 — there was a 10.1% increase in Latinx exam-takers nationally

18,088  — Number of students enrolled in International Baccalaureate programs in 24 North Carolina schools this school year, a 1.3% increase compared to the 17,852 students enrolled in IB programs last year

2,498 — Number of students who took 7,124 IB exams

76% — Percentage of students who passed IB exams with a score of 4 or better

1,082 — Number of high school students enrolled in five rigorous Cambridge International programs this school year; Enrollment increased 41.6% over the 764 students in programs last year

$12.5 million — Amount North Carolina spent to cover college-level exams for students

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.