News

Few minorities sat for AP Computer Science test in Pa.

Written by Ben Allen, Morning Edition Host | Jan 15, 2014 4:00 AM

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(Harrisburg) -- New data shows many Advanced Placement tests in Pennsylvania are almost exclusively taken by white and Asian students.

In 2008, just one Hispanic student sat for the AP Computer Science test, compared to 181 white students.

But the most recent numbers from the College Board show 522 white students took the test in 2012 .

That's more than 65 times the eight Hispanics who took part.

"If we don't have the right kind of challenging curriculum, and appropriate counseling to go along with it, then students who may be well-motivated and may have lots of support from parents, may simply not be positioned academically to take the Advanced Placement courts and be eligible to take Advanced Placement testing," says Ron Cowell is president of the nonprofit Education, Policy and Leadership Center in Harrisburg, which advocates for more effective state-level education policies.

"We have no state policy that is supportive of students taking AP courses and AP tests, so it is not surprising that there is a better track record in better off districts."

The numbers weren't much better for most other minority groups - 27 African Americans took the A-P Computer Science test.

Only Asians kept pace with whites - 162 sat for the 2012 exam.

There was a brief jump to the double digits for Hispanics taking the AP Computer Science test in 2011, but that also led to a lower percentage of passing scores.

The number of Hispanic test-takers in 2010 was the same as 2012 - 8.

While few Hispanics took the test in 2009 as well, all but 1 of them achieved a score of 4 or 5, which typically translates into college credit.

In 2008, just 4 Hispanics took the test.

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