Georgia high school seniors improve on AP exams

Scores improved for Georgia’s high school seniors who took the Advanced Placement exams last year, according to The College Board’s AP Report to the Nation released this week.

The report showed that nearly 800 more students — 18,535 compared to 17,767 — recorded a three, a passing score, or higher. The state’s seniors also scored a higher percentage of a passing score or higher, 21.3 percent, compared to the national average, 20.1 percent. Georgia was one of 17 states to have a higher percentage than the national average, which measured the progress of the Class of 2013.

Black students in Georgia ranked third in the country in passing scores or higher, and Georgia also ranked 13th in the nation in a 10-year increase, 9.1 percent, of seniors who scored a three or higher.

More students here are also taking at least one exam, a figure that has doubled, and the number of low-income students who have taken an AP Exam has jumped tenfold. This growth has meant a significant increase in the number of qualifying AP Exam scores typically required for college credit.

“I’m delighted to see the continued growth of academic achievement by all students and the expanding access to such rigorous college-level courses,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a news release. “The AP Program offers students the skills they need for college success, and we are pleased to see dramatic growth in the number of students participating and succeeding in these courses.”

Georgia has also closed an equity gap in AP participation and success among Hispanic and Latino students. Reflecting the demographics of the overall population, 8.3 percent of Georgia’s public high school graduating class was composed of Hispanics and Latinos, compared to 8.5 percent of AP test-takers and 8.6 percent of those who scored a three or higher.

“Georgia’s administrators and educators are obviously committed to broadening AP access to more low-income and minority students,” Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president who leads the Advanced Placement Program, said in a news release. “We congratulate them on their successes and encourage them as they move forward to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Last school year, the Georgia Department of Education allocated $1.3 million to pay for one AP Exam for any student who qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch.