By Sarah Plummer
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The number of students taking Advanced Placement courses across the nation has nearly doubled over the last decade. While the number of low-income students has more than quadrupled, a recent report from the College Board indicates West Virginia is still behind when it comes to making sure low-income students have access to these rigorous classes.
According to the "10th Annual AP Report to the Nation" published by the College Board, low-income students accounted for 27.5 percent of 2013 graduates who took at least one AP Exam in 2013, up from 11.4 percent in 2003. In all, 275,864 low-income graduates in the class of 2013 took at least one AP Exam, up from 58,489 in 2003.
In West Virginia, where nearly 52 percent of students receive free or reduced lunches -- an indication of poverty -- low-income students made up 16 percent of exam takers, according to College Board data.
States with similar levels of student poverty are seeing a greater percentage of low-income students take AP Exams. For example, California has 54 percent of its students on free and reduced lunches and 42 percent of its AP exam-takers are low-income. Likewise, Nevada has 50 percent on free or reduced lunches, while 33 percent of exam-takers are low-income.
College Board President David Coleman said the association is working to make sure equity gaps are eliminated.
"While great strides have been made over the last decade to expand access to AP, we remain as committed as ever to ensuring that every student with the potential to succeed in an AP course has the opportunity to take one," he said.
Judy Johnson, director of curriculum for Wood County Schools, said West Virginia requires every high school to offer at least four AP courses. In addition, all AP courses are offered through the Department of Education's virtual school online.