Advanced Placement Results

Many APS high school students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams. AP courses offer college-level curriculum to high school students and many colleges will grant course credit to students who who earn a certain score (usually 3 or higher) on the five point exam. In this post, we’ll refer to an AP score 3 or higher as passing.

The graph below shows the percentage of students who were enrolled in at least one AP course, the percentage who took at least one test, and the percentage who passed at least one test.

Pass rates are often calculated as the percentage of tests taken and passed, however this doesn’t provide any context for how many students in a school are actually participating in AP programs. To help with this, we use the entire school population as the denominator1. This creates a measure of school-level AP productivity and is easier to compare across schools.

The graph shows that 31% of students at Grady passed at least one AP exam, the highest rate in the district. To calculate a more traditional pass rate, hover over the Grady results to see that 400 students took at least one AP exam, and 617 students passed at least one AP exam. This means that of the 617 students at Grady who took an AP exam, 65% (400/617) passed at least one exam.

Use the year filter in the upper right to see previous years. Grady had a 13 percentage point increase in students passing AP exams since 2016. The 2018 results also show that 56% of students at Grady enrolled in at least one AP course, which is the second highest in the district, behind KIPP Collegiate at 70%.

Atlanta Classical has more students taking and passing AP courses than enrolled in AP courses. The College Board allows students to take the exam without taking the course. Atlanta Classical also only had high school grades 9-11 in 2018. So their AP participation will likely rise in 2019 with their first class of seniors.

The pattern of Advanced Placement pass rates is similar to the percentage of students who score distinguished on the Milestones. The graph below shows the percentage of students scoring distinguished graphed against the challenge index. (See here for more details.) Both the rank order and relative spacing for the first five schools is the same for Milestones percentage distinguished and AP pass rates. Also, high poverty schools tend to have results in the low-single digits for both metrics. This suggests that low AP pass rates are not an issue specific to Advanced Placement instruction, but instead reflect the prior achievement levels of students enrolling in AP classes.

Within each school, AP test-taking and pass rates vary by subject. The next graph shows the number of students taking and passing each exam at Grady. The graph shows that Human Geography had the most students pass the exam, World History had the most students who took the exam, and 100% of students taking Calculus AB passed the exam.

Notice that this graph uses counts instead of percentages. The number of students passing is censored when less than 10 students take an exam. Use the school filter to view data for other schools. Mouse over data points to view the pass rate.

The last graph shows the number of students who took and passed biology by school. Use the Subject filter to view results for different exams.

For more information on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate results at APS, see the Research and Evaluation data briefs. To be notified of similar posts, please subscribe to the blog.


  1. The total student count includes ninth graders, who usually don’t take AP exams.