AP stands for Advanced Placement, which is a national curriculum for very smart high school students administered by the College Board. The College Board is the same non-profit organization that administers the SAT college admissions test.

The College Board offers AP curricula in 38 subjects ranging from Art History to English Literature to Physics to Chinese, but most schools do not have the resources to offer all courses. AP Courses are designed to be very rigorous, supposedly simulating the difficulty of a 1st semester college class.

High school students can usually earn college credit by scoring well on the end of course AP exams, given each spring. A separate exam is given for each course and is scored from 1 to 5. Scores of 3, 4, and 5 are considered passing; however, most academically selective colleges will only grant credit for scores of 4 and 5.

High achieving students with access to many AP courses can often earn enough college credit from AP exams to technically start college as a second year student. For example, a student who took 10 AP courses in high school and scored a 4 or 5 in each course, might enter college with 30 credit-hours, assuming the college awards 3-hours per course. (Read more about how Rice University treats AP credit).

Beyond simply bragging rights and the ability to skip sometimes boring entry-level classes, 30 credit-hours could save families from paying for an entire year of college!

Reading the Tables

  • Students 11/12 are the total number of juniors and seniors at the school
  • Participation is the percentage of juniors and seniors who took at least 1 AP exam
  • Passing is the percentage of tests, which earned a score of 3, 4, or 5
  • Exams / Student are the average number of AP tests that each participating student took

Top Houston-Area Public High Schools by AP Participation and Passage Rates

This list ranks schools in order of participation rate; however, only schools with a passing rate of 50% or higher are included. A higher participation rate shows that the school is encouraging more students to take college level courses. However, some schools require or push students to take AP courses when they are not prepared for that level of rigor. As a result, some schools can have high participation rates but unacceptably low passing rates, which is why we exclude them.

wdt_ID Rank School District Students 11/12 Participation Passing Exams/ Student
1 1 Carnegie Vanguard H S Houston ISD 300 99.60 67.20 4.80
2 2 Debakey H S For Health Prof Houston ISD 353 94.30 89.50 3.40
3 3 Harmony School Of Innovation - Kat Harmony School Of Science - Housto 67 70.10 51.40 3.10
4 4 Perfor & Vis Arts H S Houston ISD 363 68.30 79.60 2.90
5 5 Kerr H S Alief ISD 375 67.90 51.40 2.10
6 6 Tompkins H S Katy ISD 1,257 55.10 82.10 2.80
7 7 Memorial H S Spring Branch ISD 1,305 55.10 77.20 3.00
8 8 Clements H S Fort Bend ISD 1,167 54.20 84.90 3.40
9 9 Glenda Dawson H S Pearland ISD 1,128 51.20 67.90 3.60
10 10 Seven Lakes H S Katy ISD 1,643 47.60 89.10 3.30
Rank School District Students 11/12 Participation Passing Exams/ Student

All Reporting Houston-Area Public High Schools with AP Participation

Our data set from the Texas Education Agency includes 143 schools; all of the schools are listed below and are sorted by “Exams/Student,” which is the number of AP tests taken by each participating student. More tests per student is better. No schools are excluded from this list.

wdt_ID School District Students Participation Passing Exams/ Student
1 Carnegie Vanguard H S Houston ISD 300 99.60 67.20 4.80
2 Energized For Stem Academy West H Houston ISD 160 100.00 2.70 3.90
3 Mickey Leland College Prep Acad Fo Houston ISD 44 100.00 10.20 3.70
4 Glenda Dawson H S Pearland ISD 1,128 51.20 67.90 3.60
5 Debakey H S For Health Prof Houston ISD 353 94.30 89.50 3.40
6 Bellaire H S Houston ISD 1,562 44.20 76.80 3.40
7 Clements H S Fort Bend ISD 1,167 54.20 84.90 3.40
8 Seven Lakes H S Katy ISD 1,643 47.60 89.10 3.30
9 Stephen F Austin H S Fort Bend ISD 1,184 45.00 74.00 3.20
10 Kempner H S Fort Bend ISD 1,170 36.80 53.40 3.20
School District Students Participation Passing Exams/ Student

About the Data

This data is from the Texas Education Agency for the 2016-2017 academic year, which was the most recently available data at the time of analysis.

The list includes school districts, which generally fall within Houston’s “third ring road” comprised of the Grand Parkway and Highway 6:

  1. Aldine
  2. Alief
  3. Alvin
  4. Channel View
  5. Clear Creek
  6. Cypress-Fairbanks
  7. Deer Park
  8. Fort Bend
  9. Friendswood
  10. Galena Park
  11. Houston
  12. Humble
  13. Katy
  14. Klein
  15. Pasadena
  16. Pearland
  17. Sheldon
  18. Spring
  19. Spring Branch
  20. Yes Prep (charter)
  21. Harmony (charter)
  22. Kipp (charter)

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