Blog: Latino Ed Beat

AP Participation, Performance Improving Among Illinois Latinos

Illinois Latinos’ participation and performance in Advanced Placement courses is improving, state education data show. 

Madhu Krishnamurthy of the Daily Herald, a newspaper which identifies itself as “suburban Chicago’s information source,” recently wrote a story analyzing the numbers. 

“Latino students made up 18 percent of Illinois’ Class of 2014, but they represented slightly more than 20 percent of graduates who took at least one AP exam during high school,” Krishnamurthy writes.

According to a news release from the Illinois State Board of Education, this is the third year in a row that the percentage of Latino AP test-takers has exceeded the percentage of Latino high school graduates in the state. 

More than 9,000 of Illinois’ 2014 Latino graduates took AP tests in 2014 — a number that has more than quadrupled in the past decade. (Only 2,160 Latinos took the tests in 2004.)

Scores are improving as well. While 8 percent of Latino test-takers in 2004 earned a 3 — the recommended minimum score for earning college credit on a 1-5 grading scale — or higher, the same was true for 17 percent of Latino students who took AP tests last year.

Illinois leads the nation in reducing the equity gap for Latino students taking AP tests, “providing more minority high school students access to these challenging, college-level courses with each graduating class,” the news release states. 

Krishnamurthy gives credit to programs like AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination — for helping prepare these historically underserved students and helping to cover the costs of AP tests for students who can’t afford the $85 fee. AVID is at work in the U-46 school district in Elgin, Illinois — the state’s second largest district, where nearly 50 percent of the student body is Hispanic. 

From note-taking to understanding how exam questions are framed, AVID gives students the tools necessary to take tests and perform well on them. Students study independently and in groups to develop networking skills,” Krishnamurthy writes.