Virginia’s Advanced Placement test scores have taken a tumble, and Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s team is laying the blame at the feet of previous Democrat-led administrations.
According to the College Board, the percentage of Virginia seniors who scored three or higher on a five-point scale on at least one AP test dipped 1.7 percent from 2021 to 2022. In 2021, 26.9 percent earned qualifying scores; for 2022, that number slid to 25.2 percent.
The commonwealth, previously tied for ninth place in the U.S. in 2021 for AP performance, came in 11th for 2022. It was in third place in 2015.
Virginia remains above the nationwide average of 21.6 percent of high school graduates passing an AP test.
“Virginia’s 2021-2022 AP results are yet another sad reminder that when previous administrations lowered expectations, Virginia’s children suffer,” Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said in a Wednesday news release.
“The commonwealth must reverse the declines in the AP scores that have occurred over the last 10 years by restoring rigor and celebrating the achievements of our students,” Guidera said.
Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam served as Virginia’s governors from 2014 to 2018 and 2018 to 2022, respectively.
As the Richmond Times reported, the percentage of AP test takers who passed increased under Democratic leadership from 2014 to 2020, rising from 64.8 percent in 2014 to 70.4 percent in 2020. Those numbers dropped in 2021 and 2022 to 66.4 percent last year.
“The Youngkin administration continues to cite ‘lowered expectations’ as the bogeyman of Virginia education, but the logic just does not hold,” Virginia Education Association President James Fedderman said in a statement to the Richmond Times.
“Whether talking about NAEP scores, SOL scores, or AP scores, there is a complex set of factors that impact student performance, but unfortunately for Gov. Youngkin, ‘expectations’ is not one of them,” Fedderman said.
Guidera, meanwhile, said she’ll work with incoming superintendent of public instruction Lisa Coons, a Tennessee education official appointed by Youngkin in March, to create “a strategy to restore the performance of Virginia’s students in advanced courses and expanding opportunities for students to pursue rigorous academic courses. We must raise the floor and the ceiling for Virginia’s students.”
Fedderman has previously described Coons as “another out-of-state official with a political agenda has been promoted over a proven state education leader.”
Tennessee landed in 36th place in 2022 when it came to high school graduates scoring a three or better on an AP test, according to College Board data — 14 percent of its seniors passed at least one exam.
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