Posted on July 12, 2022

College Board No Longer Disclosing AP Test Results by Ethnicity, State

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, K-12 Dive, July 8, 2022

The College Board used to annually publish granular breakdowns of how students scored on its Advanced Placement, or AP exams. And Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost for enrollment management at Oregon State University, would painstakingly download each data set to translate into a more digestible format on his admissions blog.

The testing provider’s reports represented an in-depth dive into the assessments, which can earn K-12 students college credit if they receive a high enough score.

The College Board would share a state-by-state look at how high school students performed on the tests, as well as demographic data, so anyone in the public could see how students — based on their ethnicity — fared. So detailed were these summaries that one could look up, for instance, Black students’ average score on the AP Biology test for any given year.

That was up until 2021, when the College Board stopped releasing most of those data points. It still posts the number of students who tested, and how many scored in exams’ range of 1 to 5, a 5 being the highest mark. But the public could no longer sort test results by ethnicity.

Higher Ed Dive could find no evidence the College Board announced the change. It also appears to have scrubbed that type of data from its website archives.

It was a conspicuous absence to Boeckenstedt, one of Twitter’s most prolific admissions professionals. {snip}


The College Board has come under fire for peddling products like the AP and SAT tests that critics perceive as disadvantaging marginalized groups in higher education. Underrepresented students, such as those who are Hispanic and Black, were generally scoring lower on AP exams compared to their White peers, according to prior years’ data. The testing provider has said the SAT is not a racist instrument.


The last decade or so has also been defined by a push to broaden access to the exams, especially for low-income students. The College Board often touts initiatives like test fee reductions and government funding that helps subsidize students. The price of AP exams is considered a barrier to taking them. Each test costs $96 for U.S. and Canadian students.

However, rising numbers of students taking the test over time doesn’t mean AP course enrollment is equitable.

Take Florida, which had the highest AP test participation rate in 2020. Although a quarter of all students in Florida public K-12 high schools took an AP class, only 15% of Black students did, according to a study this year from the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

And across the country, Black and Hispanic students aren’t scoring highly on the exams compared to their White peers.

Based on 2020 score data Boeckenstedt analyzed when it was still publicly available, only about 5% of Black students scored a 5 on one of the exams, versus about 15% of White students.


Collin Palmer, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Toledo, said he wondered whether the College Board hid the data because it showed disparities by ethnicity have worsened.