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Maryland High-Schoolers Rank Near Top in AP Performance

Maryland boasts the second-highest percentage of 2006 graduating seniors scoring 3 or higher on an advanced placement test, and contains the school with best performance among black students on key science tests, according to a College Board report released Tuesday.

The state is also among the nation's leaders in overcoming gaps in performance among Hispanics and American Indians, but not black students, who represent 34.2 percent of the student population in the state, according to the report.

Despite that, Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt has the largest number of black students in the nation scoring 3 or higher on AP exams in chemistry and physics B.

Advanced Placement exam scores are determined on a five-point scale, with a grade of 3 the minimum needed to be "qualified" to receive college credit or advanced placement.

Roosevelt administered almost 1,000 AP exams in 2006, according to guidance counselor David Heintzelman.

Of the 95 physics B exams taken by Roosevelt students, 17 black students received at least a score of 3, according to Heintzelman, and about 20-25 percent of the 104 students who took the 2006 chemistry test at Roosevelt were black students who received a 3 or better.

Overall in Maryland in 2006, 5.5 percent of students were classified as Hispanic while 6.0 percent of AP exam-takers were Hispanic. American Indian or Alaska Natives comprised .3 percent of students, and .3 percent of exam-takers were classified as such in the report. The figures showed no gap between population and test-taker percentages.

Still the gap between the percentage of black students in Maryland, 34.2 percent, and the percentage of blacks taking AP exams. 14.3 percent, is nearly 20 points.

Roosevelt is the only Maryland public school among the five "exemplary" schools in the state noted in the report. The five are: Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda for calculus AB, The Key School in Annapolis for French literature, The German School in Potomac for German language and Landon School in Bethesda for microeconomics.

Roosevelt is also by far the largest of the schools, with about 2,900 students enrolled in grades 9-12.

Georgetown Preparatory School has 435 students in grades 9-12, The Key School has 199 and both The German School and Landon School have fewer than 300 students in those grades.

Fee waivers were given to 2,061 Maryland students in 2006 according to the report, an increase of 19.4 percent from 2005. Those students are classified as "low income" and paying the $82 fee for each exam could be a hardship.

However, only 37 waivers were given for students at Roosevelt for the 2006 exam administration, according to Heintzelman, who had to deny many waivers to qualified students.

"It's like a line to get those waivers," Heintzelman said.

Test-takers, he said, will continue to take the exams. "It's a sacrifice (for the students)... but it's a means to an end."

Maryland also ranks first in the nation in percentage growth of students scoring 3 or higher on Advanced Placement Examinations since 2000. 18,704 of the state's public school students took at least one AP exam in 2006.

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