Sep 24, 2012

More Louisiana Students Participate and Pass Rigorous College-Prep Courses

BATON ROUGE, La. - The number of Louisiana students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses increased dramatically for the sixth year in a row, according to a report released today by the College Board. Last school year, enrollment in these rigorous college-preparatory courses increased by more than 17 percent, and over the last five years, enrollment has increased by nearly 70 percent. The number of students earning a qualifying score (3 or higher) on an AP exam increased by 18 percent last year and by 62 percent over the last five years. Expanding Advanced Placement access and achievement is a core component of Louisiana Believes, the state’s comprehensive plan put every student on track to a career or college degree.

"Just 19 percent of students who enter the 9th grade today earn a college degree within 10 years," said State Superintendent John White. "Expanding access to more Advanced Placement college-prep courses will prepare more students for the rigors of college work, which will ultimately result in more college graduates. This is why we are doing everything we can to increase Advance Placement coursework in Louisiana."

Participation and passage rates also increased across every minority group. Last school year, enrollment of African- American students experienced the largest annual increase, rising nearly 22 percent. Enrollment for African- American students has surged an astonishing 113 percent during the last five years.

The state’s plans to further expand Advanced Placement include the following steps:

  • Training 300 teachers to start Advanced Placement courses this summer.
  • Funding 2013 test fees for all low-income students taking AP tests.
  • Granting 150 points (out of 150) in the state’s school accountability system for all graduates scoring 3 or better on at least one AP test; granting 110 points for any graduate who takes an AP course and test but does not score 3 or higher.
  • Expanding access through Course Choice, allowing all students access to any AP course not offered in their home school.

"Louisiana has made great progress in growing enrollment in Advanced Placement courses but more needs to be done," said White. "Students who take Advanced Placement courses are more likely to enter college and earn a degree. To prepare more students for success in college, the state is significantly expanding access to these rigorous college-prep courses."

While Advanced Placement courses offer high school students the chance to earn credit toward their high school diploma requirements and exposure to college level courses, students enrolled in AP courses only receive college credit if they earn aQualifying score of 3 or better on the respective 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

Research shows a strong correlation between high school students who take AP classes and exams and their likelihood of attending and finishing college. A study by the University of Texas found students who took AP courses in high school were more likely to graduate college within four years and had higher college GPAs. A study by Hargrove and Dodd (2007) also found high school students who took one or more AP tests or classes out-performed other college students. The Hargrove and Dodd research showed that even students who scored on the lower end of the AP exam scale performed better than their fellow students who did not take AP classes or tests.

Studies have also found that traditionally underserved students who participate in high quality courses and are tested by an exam such as the AP are dramatically more likely to experience college success. A study by Dougherty, Mellor and Jian (2005) showed that high school students who scored a 3 or better on an AP exam were more likely to graduate from college. Specifically, African-American students were 21 percent more likely, Hispanic students were 27percent more likely, and low-income students were 32percent more likely to graduate from college when they scored 3 or higher on the AP exam.

Advanced Placement courses and exams are developed by the College Board, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to connect students to college.

For complete AP results, including Louisiana’s state-level data and national results, please click here.

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