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Poor AP Test Results Put US Behind Other Countries

U.S. Students Can't Keep Up Internationally After Poor AP STEM, Language Results

America's schools may be in trouble after the release of recent results of two high school Advanced Placement (AP) exams focused on science, technology engineering, math (STEM) and foreign language. 

According to a new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation titled, "Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on K-12 Educational Effectiveness," only 17 states had 10 percent of graduates who passed an AP exam in STEM, and only two states had five percent passing the language test. 

The report said that when it comes to being internationally competitive, American students are very behind. The study looked at NAEP scores, passage rates on AP STEM exams, and passage rates on foreign language exams. 

"Across all three of these indicators, states struggled," the report said. California, the report said, the highest performing state on AP foreign language scores, "saw only nine percent of students graduate having passed an AP foreign language test." STEM, the report said, "was not much better."

"The highest-performing state, Massachusetts, had only 16% of its graduates pass an AP STEM exam, and the lowest, Mississippi, had only 1.2% [about 1 in 80 students] do so," the report said. "Combine that with middling comparisons to international benchmarks, and we see a bleak picture for American students and a nation that wants to compete globally."

There are 10 STEM-related AP tests offered by the College Board: "Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Computer Science A, Environment Science, Physics B, Physics C-Mechanics, Physics C-Electricity and Magnetism, and Statistics." 

"Clearly, the United States will not be able to meet its workforce demands at the current STEM success rate," the report said. Anthony Carnevale, researcher on job patterns and leader of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, said that Mississippi "will have 43,000 STEM-related jobs by 2018."

"This could provide an essential opportunity for an economically depressed part of the country. But if students lack the necessary skills and content knowledge, these jobs will remain out of their reach," the report said.

Read the full report. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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