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AP Expansion in California

California and the College Board:
A Partnership That Gets Results

Through the PSAT/NMSQT and AP Program, the partnership between the state of California and the College Board has provided California students with opportunities to build the skills essential for college success and earn college credits through their hard work.






Total AP
Total 3+ AP

However, there are still areas where California can continue to expand access to students and help districts fulfill LCAP requirements:

  • Data from the class of 2014 found that 31% (25,807) of public school students with potential did not participate in at least one matched AP Exam.
  • Data from the class of 2014 found that 32% (14,651) of public school students with AP STEM potential did not take an AP STEM course.
  • Based on the 2014 PSAT/NMSQT results for 10th-grade test takers in the public school class of 2016, there are at least 8,806 underrepresented California students who have the potential for success in at least one AP course.

Maintaining the Momentum

The academic progress of California’s students has been significant over the past few years, due in part to the partnership between the state and the College Board. The rigorous learning opportunities provided through multiple pathways have helped prepare California’s students for success, not only in higher education but also in today’s 21st-century workforce. The College Board remains committed to supporting California and its districts in preparing students and future leaders for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.

The Gateway to AP Success

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) measures the skills students need for college success. Research shows that the fastest way to increase AP participation is to administer the PSAT/NMSQT and identify and recruit students for AP courses for which they show the potential to succeed.

AP Potential Makes It Easy

The PSAT/NMSQT offers both educators and students access to AP Potential , a free online tool that identifies students likely to succeed on AP Exams based on their PSAT/NMSQT scores. Based on research showing that PSAT/NMSQT scores predict performance on specific AP Exams, AP Potential is the best available tool to help educators:

  • Identify students who may be ready for the rigor of AP
  • Improve access to AP
  • Ensure that no student with the potential to succeed in AP is overlooked

Our Recommendations to District Leadership on How to Expand AP

  • Appoint a districtwide AP Coordinator/Champion.
  • Develop a districtwide AP expansion and performance plan to identify goals and timeframes, i.e., increase of 5 percent in AP participation and 5 percent in AP performance annually.
  • Direct all schools to use AP Potential based on their PSAT/NMSQT data to identify students likely to succeed in AP and encourage them to enroll in AP courses.
  • Require all AP teachers to attend the College Board professional development (one-day or five-day AP Summer Institute) at least every other year. Yearly attendance is highly recommended.
  • Identify external funding and commit internal funding to support district AP plan.
  • Provide the opportunity for all students to take the PSAT/NMSQT, by funding a districtwide implementation in order to have a complete pool of students for AP potential analysis and support.