A new FCAN analysis, published as part of the Learning Curve series with the Urban Institute, examines the gap between Advanced Placement enrollment and test-taking in Florida.

The Learning Curve series features original data and analysis on PK-12 and postsecondary education that is not available anywhere else. These essays will draw on information in the Urban Institute’s Education Data Portal and other education datasets and feature analysis by researchers from across the country. The goal is to provide timely, rigorous, and accessible research to education decision-makers at the federal, state, and local levels.

Among FCAN’s findings in “The Leaky Pipeline of Advanced Placement Testing”:

  • Florida has worked to expand access to accelerated curricula, including AP classes. Yet that access has not resulted in the same enrollment for all groups, and though 25% of all students take an AP class, only 15% of Black students do.
  • Research shows students gain the most benefit from taking an AP class when they also take the AP test, even if they do not pass.
  • In 2020, more than half of Florida public high school students took at least one AP exam. However, there is a gap between those who enroll in AP classes and those who take tests. Although Florida subsidizes the test fee, thousands of Florida’s students taking AP courses do not take AP tests, and potentially miss out on postsecondary benefits. Black public high school students are overrepresented when it comes to students enrolled in AP classes but not taking any tests.
  • AP students in smaller, more rural districts are less likely than average to take an AP test. For districts with less than 2,000 students, the average test-taking gap is 37 percent.

This new analysis is based on state and district-level data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for traditional public schools during the 2017-18 school year, the most recent year Advanced Placement enrollment and testing data are available.

Visit the Urban Institute page to see the full report, which was written by Kristen Hengtgen, FCAN’s Senior Researcher, and Kimberly Lent Morales, Director of Research and Evaluation for Helios Education Foundation. You can also view an interactive map that shows the gap between AP class enrollment and AP test taking for each racial or ethnic group and each district in Florida.


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