May 29, 2013

State strategy for expanding college preparatory courses showing immediate gains

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Department of Education announced today that during the 2012-2013 school year, Louisiana students took approximately 6,000 more Advanced Placement (AP) courses than in the year before with 23,435 students taking an AP course this year, up from 17,496 in 2012 and that participation in AP exams rose by approximately 33 percent based on preliminary College Board numbers. AP courses offer students the opportunity to earn college credit during high school, and 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 has historically been the nation’s lowest performing state in AP participation. 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 more students than ever before participating in Advanced Placement, our state is on track to move from trailing the nation to being a leader in expanding college access to all students,” said State Superintendent John White. “AP courses help prepare students for college, and our state is dedicated to providing the preparation and support educators need to offer this opportunity to our kids.”

Louisiana has used multiple strategies as part of its plan to increase AP participation. The state’s new high school accountability system rewards schools with students who graduate having taken an AP course by granting 110 points. The accountability system further recognizes students who score three or higher on at least one AP exam by awarding schools 150 points.

Senate Bill 202 will also provide students TOPS course credit for AP courses and will give students extra points on the TOPS GPA when they achieve high marks. The state has also committed to pay the test fee for any student from a low-income home or any student taking a course new to his or her school.

Finally, in 2012 the state funded summer training for nearly 400 teachers to prepare for these changes. This summer, the number of educators enrolled in summer training programs has doubled, with nearly 800 educators currently registered to attend trainings.

Enrollment in AP courses has grown by nearly 70 percent over the last five years. Among minority students, gains are even more substantial, with enrollment for African-American students growing by 113 percent over the last that time.

Students and schools will receive spring test results over the summer. 

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