BATON ROUGE, La. - The Department of Education today announced Louisiana high school seniors are outpacing the nation in the increase of graduates scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams and qualifying for college credit, according to the College Board's 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation. The report shows the number of seniors scoring a qualifying score of 3 or higher increased from 1,531 in 2012 to 1,911 in 2013, representing a 25 percent increase, ranking Louisiana first in the nation. Nationwide, the increase from 2012 to 2013 was six percent. Additionally, Louisiana ranks third in the nation for the increase in the percentage of graduates taking an AP exam during high school, increasing 4.1 percentage points from 11.1 to 15.2 percent, representing an increase of more than 1,500 high school seniors taking an AP exam from 3,931 in 2012 to 5,516 in 2013. Likewise, the number of AP exams taken by high school seniors increased by 42 percent from 2012 to 2013, ranking Louisiana first in the nation.
For all Louisiana high school students in grades 9-12, the number of college credits earned has increased by more than 1,000 from 2012 to 2013 - the greatest individual increase in state history. The number of students earning a qualifying score of 3 or higher rose from 4,112 in 2012 to 5,144 in 2013, representing a 25 percent increase. Likewise, the number of students taking an AP exam increased from 6,645 in 2012 to 10,553 in 2013, an increase of nearly 4,000 students or 59 percent. The number of AP exams those students took also increased, from 9,644 in 2012 to 15,070 in 2013, for an increase of 56 percent. Enrollment in AP courses has also grown. In, 2013, Louisiana students took approximately 6,000 more AP courses. There were 23,435 students enrolled in AP courses in 2013, compared to 17,496 in 2012, representing a 33 percent increase. With more students than ever before participating in AP, Louisiana is on track to being a leader in expanding college access to all students.
"As more seniors in Louisiana leave high school with college credits already under their belt it is further proof that the hard work being done in our classrooms is paying off for our students," said State Superintendent John White. "And, it's not just the most recent cohort of high school graduates. We are seeing proven success and enrollment increases across all grade levels in Advanced Placement."
Advanced Placement courses allow high school students to earn college credit while working towards their high school diplomas. Students enrolled in the college-level courses receive high school credit for the subject in which they take the AP class, and college credit upon earning a qualifying score on a standardized AP exam.
AP tests are scored on a 1 to 5 scale as follows:
5 - Extremely well qualified
4 - Well qualified
3 - Qualified
2 - Possibly qualified
1 - No recommendation
Increasing AP participation is a critical component of Louisiana Believes, the state's comprehensive plan to put every student on track to a college degree or a professional career. With AP, students can get a feel for the rigors of college-level studies while they still have the support of a high school environment. When students take AP courses, they demonstrate to college admission officers they have sought out an educational experience that will prepare them for success in college and beyond. Research shows a strong link between taking AP courses and success in college, finding students taking AP courses are more likely to graduate in four years and have higher college GPAs.
"Louisiana is poised to continue improving upon this success," said Supt. White. "We are dedicated to providing not only increased opportunities for our students but the preparation and support educators need to offer these opportunities to students."
Louisiana is utilizing multiple strategies as part of its plan to increase AP participation including the Advanced Placement Exam Fee Program and the AP Summer Institute Fee Reimbursement Program. Through the AP Exam Fee Program, the Department will subsidize the $55 for each AP exam taken by students enrolled in both public and BESE-approved nonpublic school who meet the low-income eligibility criteria. In addition, the Department will reimburse the full $89 for each AP Exam taken by students enrolled in a public school which is implementing or expanding an AP program. The fee reimbursements are for students who were enrolled in a rigorous course preparing them for the AP exam taken during the May 2014 testing cycle, and were between the ages of 5 and 19 on exam day.
Also, over the last two years, the Department has trained approximately 1,000 educators to teach rigorous college-preparatory courses. Through the 2014 AP Summer Institute Fee Reimbursement Program, the Department will offer the professional development opportunity to an additional 600 educators seeking to ensure a smooth transition to the redesigned courses that feature 21st century skills, inquiry-based approaches, and strong alignment to best practices in higher education. The deadline to apply for both programs is March 7. Applications can be found on the Department's website by clicking here.
The expanding of access to AP and student participation is leading to cost savings in college for students and families. In May 2013, Louisiana public and private high school students took a total of 8,617 AP exams that resulted in scores of 3 or higher. Based on students' opportunity to earn at least 3 college credits for each AP Exam score of 3 or higher, this represents an estimated 25,851 college credits. At an average rate of $218.20 per credit hour, the total potential cost savings for Louisiana students and families was $5,640,688.
To read the College Board's 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation, please click here.