Huge Increase in Black Participation in the Advanced Placement Program

Over the past two decades there has been a huge increase in the number of black students who are taking challenging Advanced Placement courses in high school. In 1985 there were only 2,768 black students taking Advanced Placement courses in the United States. At that time blacks made up just one percent of the more than 270,000 AP students. By 1990 black participation in AP programs had more than doubled. That year black students took some 6,800 AP exams.

Over the next five years the number of blacks enrolled in AP courses more than quadrupled. In 1997 blacks took 34,514 AP exams, up more than fivefold from 1990. By 2006 the number of AP exams taken by black students had jumped to 94,556, nearly 14 times as many exams that were taken by black students in 1990. In 2006 there were 46,194 black students who participated in the AP program. Therefore, each black student took, on average, two AP tests. From 2005 to 2006 there was a 17.5 percent increase in the number of AP examinations taken by black students.

The good news is that in 2006 blacks took 5.6 percent of all AP examinations administered in the United States. But despite this major progress, blacks still lag far behind whites in participation in the AP program. In contrast, we note that blacks now make up 11 percent of all SAT test takers and more than 13 percent of all high school students in the nation.