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Using AP Data

Celebrate achievements and identify weaknesses

Each July, schools receive a number of AP score reports and rosters to help teachers and administrators  analyze student performance and course effectiveness. Schools receive:

  • An AP score report for each student
  • A cumulative roster of all students
  • Rosters of all students by exam

Schools also receive the AP Instructional Planning Report. This report helps AP teachers analyze students' performance on AP Exams and identify areas in their AP courses that might need more concentration. Administrators can use the data on all these reports to understand their students' performance on the AP Exams and chart overall progress toward school and district goals. For more information about AP scores, visit Scores

Interpreting AP Score Reports

If you have observed...

  • Most AP scores in a subject are 1s and 2s:
    • Review the course content against the published Course Description on AP Central® to ensure that students are being taught what the exams measure. This is especially true if students whose classroom scores are high do not achieve at least average scores on AP Exams.
    • Consider the opportunities teachers have had for professional development and factor in student readiness (motivation, reading and writing skills, prior course work).
  • Most AP scores in a subject are 4s and 5s:
    • It's possible the selection criteria for the class are overly rigorous. Consider opening the class to more students.
  • Scores on the multiple-choice and free-response sections of AP Exams are widely divergent:
    • Implement practice sessions on test skills for multiple-choice exams, or more assignments during the school year that emphasize writing and organizational skills.

Assessing equity and excellence

It's important to understand the limitations of certain metrics. For example, the metric "percent of exams 3 or higher" could be artificially inflated by limiting the number of students who took the AP Exams. For this reason, this metric does not appear on AP score reports.

Schools that are focusing on expanding AP opportunities look at participation rates, such as "percent of students in a score who took at least one AP Exam." Schools can also track the total number of exams taken in a given year against the total student population. To see the percentage of students in a given score level that are given an opportunity to participate, along with their performance, divide the number of students in a particular score who scored 3 or above on at least one AP Exam by the total number of students in that score.

For example:

  • At X High School, 49 seniors received at least one AP Exam score of 3 or higher. There are 250 seniors at X High School. The result: 19.6 percent of seniors had a successful AP experience.