Aug 09, 2018
Number of Students Earning 3 or Higher Grows by 12 Percent This Year, 167 Percent Since 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. -- More Louisiana high school students than ever before earned college-credit qualifying scores on Advanced Placement (AP®) exams in 2018, according to data released today by the Louisiana Department of Education. This year 7,330 students earned AP credit, up from 6,519 a year ago and 2,747 in 2012. African-American students saw particularly dramatic gains, with 884 African-American students earning qualifying scores, a jump of nearly 13 percent since 2017 and of 236 percent since 2012.

AP offers college-level curricula in 38 subject areas to high school students that culminate in a college-level AP exam recognized by colleges and universities nationwide. Students who earn a score of 3,4, or 5 are eligible for college credit at all Louisiana higher education institutions.

"For six consecutive years, Louisiana has increased AP participation and performance. Students have mastered college-level coursework, earned credit at virtually any institution in the nation and saved millions of dollars along the way," said State Superintendent John White. "As we work to maintain this momentum, we commend the local leaders who have driven these successes by setting and implementing inspiring visions for their communities, supporting teachers and involving parents in the mission. The stories of individual schools, teachers, and students are the real story behind this progress."

The 2018 AP data show:

  • The number of students earning qualifying scores increased 12 percent since last year and nearly 167 percent since 2012. In 2018, 7,330 students earned scores high enough to obtain college course credit. In 2017, 6,519 students earned those marks. In 2012, just 2,747 made the cut.
  • African-American students saw dramatic increases in performance. Of all test takers, 884 African-American students earned qualifying scores of 3,4, or 5, a jump of nearly 13 percent since 2017 and of 236 percent since 2012.
  • Select school systems made notable gains in increasing college access for all students over time. Since 2012, school systems in Desoto, Ouachita, Lafourche, West Feliciana, and St. Mary parishes have seen the percent change in the number of students there earning qualifying scores increase by nearly 15 to 20 percent. In that same time, school systems in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Bossier, Ouachita, and Lafayette parishes have seen the number of African-American students there earning qualifying scores increase by 540 percent to nearly 743 percent.
  • The number of actual tests earning qualifying scores increased from 9,492 last year to 10,926 this year, a 15 percent gain.
  • That increase means cost savings of more than $10 million for students and families. Based on students' opportunity to earn at least 3 college credits for each AP exam score of 3 of higher, and some students sitting for multiple exams, an estimated 32,778 college credit hours were earned in 2018. Based on the 2017 College Board report, Trends in College Pricing, at an average rate of $310.07 per credit hour, the total potential cost savings for the state's students and families was $10,163,474.

"Offering Advanced Placement coursework is an important part of our instructional mission plan," said Clay Corley, Superintendent of DeSoto Parish School System, which has seen a nearly 20 percent increase in the number of students earning qualifying scores since 2012. "These courses expose our students to challenging curricula that prepares them for the level of thinking and problem solving their post-secondary studies will require. Our increase is the result of a collective effort from our Student Learning Department, administrators, counselors, teachers, students and their families, as we continue to cultivate a growth mindset and expect excellence from each of our students."

The results released today comes on the heels of a multi-year statewide push to expand access to early college courses. As the result of actions taken in recent years:

  • All Louisiana colleges now grant credit for AP test credits;
  • Students passing AP courses receive additional weight in the calculation of the grade-point average needed for the the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, the state's premier scholarship program;
  • The rating system for high schools rewards schools achieving at high levels in AP courses and tests; and
  • As part of its plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, Louisiana authorized school systems to utilize federal funding to provide their students with equitable access to high-value academic course offerings and reimbursement options for exam fees.

"We are delighted to see these results. Continued gains in successful AP participation gives high school students an early start to college and reinforces a critical college-going culture," said Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. "Exposing more students to post-secondary education, whether through AP or other pre-college courses, is an effective way to expand access and opportunity here in Louisiana."

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