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About the Data - Advanced Placement Program ® Exams

Overview | Cautions | Definitions | Calculating Percents and Averages | Data Changes | Data Sources | FAQ | Useful Links | Data Errata | Privacy | Contact Us

Overview

The Advanced Placement Program ® (AP) Exams, offered by the College Board, assess students' ability to perform at a college level and represent the culmination of college-level work in a given discipline during the high school grades. Students taking AP Exams often prepare by taking a year-long AP course. Other students prepare for these exams by taking strong courses and/or by studying in depth on their own. AP exams are administered each May. Information about student participation and performance on AP Exams is available on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Website.

Where to Find Data about AP Exams
School Years  WISEdash   School District 
 Performance Report 
 WINSS Historical 
 Data Files 
Beginning with 2007-08 X X --
2006-07 X -- --
1996-97 through 2005-06 -- -- X

WISEdash is DPI's primary data analysis portal and contains the most current and most complete range of data about the AP Exams. WINSS Data Analysis was DPI's primary public data portal for results of AP Exams until Fall 2013 when more recent years of WINSS data were migrated to WISEdash.

AP Exam data are reported annually for all public schools and districts statewide as part of the  School District Performance Report  (SDPR). Below you will find detailed background information, definitions, and related links to facilitate use and appropriate interpretation of AP Exam results. Unless otherwise indicated, all information about WISEdash data on this page is about the Certified Data View, the default WISEdash Data View.


Cautions

  1. DPI AP Exam data may not exactly match data published by external sources.
    • DPI reports AP Exam data by the year the exam was taken. Results for all exams taken in any given school year are reported for that school year. Some College Board summaries report AP Exam data by graduation year. Results for all exams taken by graduates in any given year are reported for that school year regardless of when these exams were taken. (The College Board notes that students included in data for any given graduation year may not accurately reflect the graduating class.)
    • DPI summaries only include data for students enrolled in Wisconsin public schools. Other sources occasionally combine AP Exam results for public and private schools.
    • When counting district AP exam takers, DPI counts unique Wisconsin Student Numbers, if available, rather than student keys provided by the College Board. This typically results in slightly lower participation counts than might be provided by the College Board. Wisconsin Student Numbers became available for this purpose prior to publishing the 2007-08 AP exam reports.
    • The College Board includes institution codes in the student records provided to DPI. In some cases these codes are found to be invalid or wrong and are corrected by WI DPI to the extent possible. Consequently, DPI counts by district and school may not exactly match College Board records.
    • DPI reports AP Exam participation as a percent of enrollment in high school grades whereas outside sources often report participation as a percent of graduates. Using the number of graduates as the denominator rather than enrollment would almost always produce a higher participation rate.
  2. Local WISEdash AP participation and performance data may not exactly match local data provided in the SDPR. WISEdash makes extensive use of the relatively new DPI data warehouse, and WISEdash use of College Board records is essentially limited to AP exam scores and information needed to match scores to warehouse records. For SDPR (and WINSS Historical Downloads), all AP Exam data except enrollment are based primarily on College Board records.
  3. If 2004-05 test/exam participation rates for your school or district are much higher or lower than expected, then the likely cause is 2004-05 student enrollment counts that don't reflect reality. If reported 2004-05 enrollment counts are higher or lower than actual counts, then Advanced Placement Program ® (AP) "% Taking Exams" will be lower or higher than actual percents. Major changes in WI student data collection systems were implemented in 2004-05. 2004-05 student counts were included in this transition year collection and are not comprehensive. For more information, see cautions about the 2004-05 ISES enrollment data.

Definitions of Key Terms

For definitions, see the WISEdash Glossary (includes terms used in SDPR and in WINSS files).


Calculating Percents and Averages

About AP Exam Records

AP Exam participation and performance data are based on College Board records. After the end of each school year, the College Board sends DPI the records for students who took one or more AP Exam in May of that school year. Records include student keys, specific exams taken, scores, and a limited range of demographic and institution information.

Participation

Counting AP Exam Takers: The count of students taking one or more AP Exam in any given year as provided in College Board records. In reports for all AP Exams combined, any AP Exam Taker who took multiple exams in any school year is counted only once. When counting district students for AP exam participation purposes, DPI counts unique Wisconsin Student Numbers, if available, for each district, rather than student keys provided by the College Board. Students in College Board records for whom unique Wisconsin Student Numbers (WSNs) cannot be found are counted using student keys provided by the College Board as long as these "unidentified students" can be associated with a specific Wisconsin school district or nondistrict charter school.

Percent Taking AP Exams: The number of AP Exam Takers in grades 9 - 12 who took one or more AP exam as a percentage of the number of 9th through 12th graders enrolled. The number enrolled is as of the 3rd Friday of September.

Other Notes about Participation: The College Board recommends measures of the extent to which the overall school population (not just the tested student group) is receiving preparation for, and then access to, an AP experience. More information about measures of AP success is provided by the College Board at http://press.collegeboard.org/ap .

Performance

Percent of AP Exam Scores 3 or Above: The number of AP exams scores 3 or above divided by the number of AP exams taken in the school year, expressed as a percentage.

Other Notes about AP Exam Scores:

  • AP Exams scores are reported on a 5-point scale.
        5 Extremely well qualified
        4 Well qualified
        3 Qualified
        2 Possibly qualified
        1 No recommendation
  • According to the College Board, students earning a 3 or above are generally considered qualified to receive college credit and/or placement into advanced courses. However, each college or university determines whether or not credit or advanced placement will be awarded.

Data Changes Over Time

  • 1996-07. AP exam data were reported by gender and by race at the district and state levels.
  • 2006-07. Reporting expanded to include school level results and disaggregation by economic, disability, and English language proficiency status. ISES became the primary source of data about student demographics rather than College Board records.
  • 2007-08. WSNs are used to count AP exam takers rather than College Board student keys.

Data Sources

  • The Advanced Placement Program ® (AP) Exam data are provided by the College Board. All scores of AP Exam takers are based on student records provided by the College Board, unduplicated by DPI for students taking multiple exams as described under "Counting AP Exam Takers" above. College Board records also include a limited range of student demographic data (e.g. gender and race/ethnicity) and these data were used in WINSS files for disaggregated reporting.
  • Enrollment counts are used as the denominator in calculating test/exam participation rates. Beginning with 2004-05, enrollment counts come from ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records. See cautions about the 2004-05 ISES records. Prior to 2004-05, enrollment counts came from the Fall Enrollment Collection (PI- 1290).
  • Official Wisconsin public school directory and other DPI data are used to translate College Board institution codes into valid Wisconsin district and school codes.
  • Beginning in 2007-08, if Wisconsin Student Numbers (WSNs) can be found for students in College Board records then WSNs are used in counting students. Otherwise, DPI counts rely on student keys in College Board records.
  • When disaggregating counts of test takers and their scores, WINSS files used student demographic data provided by the College Board. WISEdash uses ISES end-of-year student demographics included in DPI's data warehouse (district or state depending on the level of the summary).

Notes about ISES End-of-Year Records

  • ISES end-of-year records are a subset of ISES Year End (YE) records.
  • YE records includes cumulative data for the entire school term and student status/outcome data as of the end of the school term.
  • In each set of YE records for a school term, there is one YE record for each school enrollment period for each student. Most students have only one record. Mobile students will have multiple records, one for each enrollment period in each school.
  • For each school term, one record for each student/district combo is identified as the student's end-of-year record for that district. For mobile students this represents the school enrollment period during which the student completed the school term. If the student did not complete the school term in that district, then the most recent record for the student in that district is the end-of-year record. Statewide end-of-year records are identified using a similar process.

The table below summarizes difference in data sources across DPI public data tools/reports.

AP Exam Data Sources by Data Tool/Report
Data Element WISEdash (Certified View) School District Performance Report  WINSS Historical 
 Data Files 
AP Exam Takers - District/School ISES end-of-year records. These records are matched at the student level to College Board records. Accountable district/school is used. If no ISES end-of-year match is found, then WISEdash uses College Board records. District/school information in these College Board records are translated into valid Wisconsin district and school codes to the extent possible. College Board records. District/school information in these records are translated into valid Wisconsin district and school codes to the extent possible. Same as School District Performance Report
AP Exam Takers - Counts and Scores College Board student records. In reports for all AP Exams combined, beginning with 1997-98, DPI counts unique WSNs, when available. Same as WISEdash. Same as WISEdash.
AP Exam Takers - Demographics ISES end-of-year records (district or state depending on the level of the summary). These records are matched at the student level to College Board records. If no ISES end-of-year match is found, then WISEdash uses demographics (when available) from the student's College Board records, otherwise student demographic group is "unknown." Not applicable. Disaggregation by student demographic group is not provided. College Board records for gender and race/ethnicity. No further disaggregation is provided.
9th through 12th Grade Enrollment - District/School, Counts, and Demographics ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records. ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records. ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records beginning in 2004-05. PI-1290 before 2004-05.

Frequently Asked Questions about AP Exam Data

  1. Why are end-of-year DPI warehouse data used as as key source of data for WISEdash AP Exam reports?

    WISEdash makes extensive use of the relatively new DPI data warehouse to create graphs and tables. This warehouse provides an opportunity to efficiently match end-of-year outcomes (e.g. AP Exam results) from external sources with a wide range of other end-of-year data about students and schools in the DPI warehouse. The short term goal is to provide more accurate and coherent data to stakeholders. The long term goal is to more efficiently combine available data about students and schools across topics and over time so that stakeholders can better understand student needs and have more focused discussions about possible explanations for, and strategies to address, these needs.

  2. Why are AP Exam data provided by "grade group" type in WISEdash when AP Exams are only taken in high school grades?

    "Grade Group" type is a filter common to all WISEdash dashboards. Schools other than "high schools" enroll students in high school grades. For example, one "grade group" type is "combined elementary/secondary school". A "Combined elementary/secondary school" generally offers instruction at all grade levels through grade 12 in one location.

    For many topics, including AP Exam participation and performance, data vary significantly across school "grade group" types. Identifying strengths and needs and possible explanations are critical steps in the school improvement process. Summary data combining data across all school "grade group" types are useful and are also provided, but "all types" data tend to mask strengths and needs of a specific school "grade group" type.

  3. Why might AP exam percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Certified Data View be different from AP exam percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Current Data View?

    AP exam data in the Certified and Current Data Views may not exactly match primarily due to differences in determining student demographic group associations, district/school assignments, counting students in grades 9-12 (AP exam participation rate denominator) on the 3rd Friday of September (TFS), and handling duplicate student identifiers.

    • Certified Data View.
      • An AP exam taker's student group associations (e.g. race/ethnicity, economic status, etc) and (accountable) district/school assignment are almost always drawn from the student's ISES end-of-year district record.
      • TFS 9th-12th grade counts, student group associations, and (accountable) district/school assignments come from ISES Count Date records.
      See Data Sources above for more information.
    • Current Data View.
      • Student group associations for AP exam takers and TFS 9th-12th graders are based on various sources with the final source being each student's ISES end-of-year state record. The primary exception is grade level which comes from the record provided by the College Board. Initial AP exam reporting in the Current Data View occurs before ISES end-of-year is available, so other sources are used temporarily.
      • District/school assignments for AP exam takers are based on the records received from the college board.
      • TFS 9th-12th grade counts and (submitting) district/school assignments come from WSLS and finally ISES Year End (YE) records.
      • Issues with student identifiers may be discovered and resolved after official publication of AP exam summaries, and the Current Data View reflects resolution of these issues so student counts can change at any point in time.
    For more details, see WISEdash Support - about the Current and Certified Data Views.

     


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The Advanced Placement Program ® (AP) Exam data are provided by the College Board. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. AP and Advanced Placement Program are registered trademarks of the College Board.