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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Fewer Utah high school students took Advanced Placement tests, exams that can lead to college credit before graduation.
Education officials don't like those numbers, especially among minorities.
"It's something that becomes a growing, more urgent problem as the state becomes more diverse," said Mark Peterson, spokesman for the Utah State Office of Education.
"Literally we do not want to leave children behind and
certainly not entire groups of children," he said. About 14,100 Utah students took AP exams during the 2006-07 school year, down 3.3 percent from the previous year, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday, citing College Board statistics. Across the country, the number was up 9.5 percent.
The number of Utah students of Mexican descent taking AP tests was down 11.3 percent. Among other Hispanics, participation dropped 7 percent, although the number of passing scores was up slightly.
More than eight of every 10 AP test takers in Utah were white students, the Tribune reported. "We should view this gap really as a warning sign, a warning sign that there are too many kids not preparing for college, not thinking about college, not going to college and not completing college," said David Doty, director of policy studies for the Utah System of Higher Education. "And that's not a good thing for the state of Utah," he said.
The University of Utah has helped launch the Utah College Advising Corps to help high school students get to college, especially minorities. Full-time advisers are working in eight high schools in the Salt Lake City area.
"First-generation students in general and many students of color are not thinking they're college material, that college isn't in their wildest dreams," said Theresa Martinez, assistant vice president for academic outreach at the university.
"Our college-access advisers can say very loudly and clearly, 'This place is for you. These places are all meant for you, and you just have to choose,"' she said.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)