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How CPS Increased Advanced Placement Accessibility, Test Scores

Every Spring semester marks final exams, including Advanced Placement (AP) tests, to close out the academic year. The CPS AP enrollment rate was below 10 percent in 2014. Ten years later, nearly one in every three of CPS high school students is enrolled in at least one AP class, an increase of more than 20 percent.

That’s thanks to AP District Coordinator Kraig Hoover, who helped implement an equity and access policy to enable more students to take these advanced courses with the opportunity to earn college credit and improve their applications.  

While some districts require a minimum GPA to register and test for AP classes, CPS gives everyone an equal chance.

“If you're on track to graduate and willing to take on the challenge of an AP course, we want you in the class,” Hoover said. “We’re breaking down barriers and providing opportunities for students across the district.”

AP-level teachers once traveled from school to school throughout the week to meet the staffing needs of district high schools, with recorded lessons scheduled in between meeting days. Now in a blended approach with both itinerant and in-house support teachers, AP classes meet five days per week with routine in-person instruction.

“We went from having courses to having a program at that level,” Hoover said. “I cannot say enough about every single one of our teachers; their sweat and their effort with our students are what make this all possible.”

It’s not just enrollment that’s increased over the last decade, as AP test scores are up, too. 

The district’s passing rate of 3’s, 4’s and 5’s on the AP exams is up from 57 percent to 66 percent. Equally worth celebrating is the decreased 1’s and increased 2’s, with more students qualifying for the AP Scholars Award. 

Title school students and those part of the free and reduced lunch program don’t have to worry about testing fees, which can total about $100 per exam without support from state and district funding.

“When we look at the other urban districts in the state, we are head and shoulders above them,” Hoover said. “I have no expectation other than for us to continue to increase.”

Due to its AP success metrics, CPS recently received its College Board distinction as an AP School Honor Roll member.

CPS offers more than a dozen AP-level courses across math, English, science, world languages and social studies subjects. Learn more about the program here.