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Study: Black students lag in success on AP tests

WASHINGTON -- Participation in the Advanced Placement program has more than doubled in 10 years, but this surge in college-preparatory testing has not reached most black students, according to an analysis of 2006 exam results in 30 school systems with 5,000 or more black high school students.

The Washington Post reviewed AP data from nine of the 10 school systems in the nation with the largest black populations -- from New York City, with 115,963 black students in grades 9 through 12, to Baltimore City, with 22,225. The analysis considered 20 other school systems, all among the 80 largest for black high school populations, that are known for their rigor. The analysis considered the number of passing exams by black students and weighed it against black student enrollment .

Participation among black students has tripled in 10 years. But the numbers were so low 10 years ago that by 2006, none of the largest school systems could meet the goal of having 1,000 passing tests from black students.

The College Board, which administers the AP program, has repeatedly noted a dearth of black students in the courses. Many are reluctant to enroll in AP courses, particularly if it means being the only minority student , said Trevor Packer, AP program director.