Preliminary data shows a higher percentage of SC students passed their AP exams this spring

Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 7:57 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Muluken Hass will be attending Winthrop University this fall. Like other recent South Carolina high school graduates, he'll already have college credit before he gets his first syllabus.

"I passed. It worked out," Hass said.

Hass was one of the 30,000 students in the state who took an Advanced Placement (AP) exam this spring, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, their test scores are rolling in.

Preliminary data shows 62% of South Carolina students who took AP tests scored a three or higher in 2020. That was a 4% increase compared to 2019. This percentage over the last five years has remained steady in the 57%-58% range.

The 4% increase was one of the largest single year increases we’ve seen, according to data dating back to 2000 from the state Department of Education.

France Meetze is an AP Teacher in Lexington School District 1, she said, “Online learning still happened. Students and teachers still worked just as hard, if not harder to get the material.”

Students in South Carolina took a total of about 49,500 this spring. Because of the closure of schools, students took the tests at home and online. In 2019, 32,761 students took 53,615 exams.

Angie Hill is an AP Teacher in Richland School District 2, she said, "That speaks to the resilience and perseverance and all the hard work this spring."

According to the College Board, the tests were open book and open note because of the school closures. Cheating was heavily discouraged. The exams were also 45 minutes long, compared to the three hours normally reserved for the exams.

Teachers we spoke with said they were allowed to see their student's responses, they did not see any obvious signs of cheating.

Hill said while she's proud of all of her students, she believes that sometimes test scores aren't the perfect metric to measure student achievement. She said, "We have to be careful how we use test scores to talk about student achievement. Especially in a state that doesn't fully fund education."

Hass said even though he missed out on many things his senior year because of the pandemic, he is grateful for all the hard work his teachers did this spring.

“We still learned a lot from how we handled it and we found creative ways to learn with the technology,” he said.

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