CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 46, No. 7
February 8, 2012

More Students Succeed in Advanced Placement Courses

State tuition grants now available for success in math and science AP exams

The 8th Annual AP Report to the Nation released today by the College Board showed that the number of U.S. public high school graduates who took at least one Advanced Placement exam grew by 2 percentage points, increasing from about 850,000 students in 2010 to more than 903,000 students nationwide in 2011.

Missouri’s class of 2011 continued the slow, steady climb in the number of high school students scoring well on AP exams, say state education officials.  Nearly 300 more students statewide graduated from high school with AP credit than the previous year's class.

One in seven (14.1 percent) of the state’s 60,000 graduates last year attempted at least one AP exam during their high school career, and nearly 60 percent (4,959) of that group of students passed one or more exams with a score of 3 or higher.

AP exams are scored on a range of 1 to 5.  Colleges and universities typically offer college credit to those who earn scores of 3, 4 or 5, and students who score well typically experience greater academic success in high school and college.

Nationally the average percentage of all graduates who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam while in high school is 18.1 percent, a number exceeded by 19 states.  The state of Maryland once again led the nation with the highest percentage of its graduates (27.9 percent) participating in AP and scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam.  In Missouri, the rate rose from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 8.2 percent in 2011, which ranks 46th nationally.

“It is good to see that more Missouri students are scoring well on their AP exams, but not nearly enough students are taking advantage of the AP program or challenging themselves with rigorous courses,” said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro.  “The increased rigor and critical thinking skills students gain in high-level courses will help prepare students for college and beyond.”

The State Board of Education encourages schools to offer Advanced Placement courses and for students to enroll in the rigorous offerings, especially in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The state is offering incentives for both schools and students.

Beginning this school year, students who score well on two advanced placement exams in math and/or science may be eligible for a college grant.  The Advanced Placement Incentive Grant provides eligible students a one-time award of $500 for college-related expenses.

In addition, incentives for school districts will be in place beginning in the 2013-14 school year with the recent adoption of new college- and career-readiness standards embedded in the Missouri School Improvement Program.  Successful completion of AP exams will become another way in which school districts can demonstrate high academic performance.

For many years, the state department of education also has administered an exam-fee assistance program for low-income students taking an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate (IB) exam.

“One of the best ways to close the achievement gap and eliminate the need for college remediation is to challenge all students with rigorous work and high expectations,” Nicastro said.  “Our students are capable of setting their academic sights higher.”

The most popular AP exams among Missouri’s class of 2011 were English Literature and Composition, English Language and Composition, U.S. History, and U.S. Government and Politics; these were followed by Psychology, Calculus AB, Biology, and World History.

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