OSPI NEWS RELEASE: Washington Continues to Top Most States in Participation and Success on Advanced Tests

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Washington Continues to Top Most States in Participation and Success on Advanced Tests

Data recently released by the College Board show Washington students’ access to Advanced Placement programs has continued to grow over the past 10 years.

Superintendent Chris Reykdal

OLYMPIA—March 27, 2019—Washington state continues to outperform the national average when it comes to students taking—and passing—Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

The AP program allows students to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school. By passing AP exams, students may earn college credit or placement into upper-level college courses.

In 2018, nearly one in four Washington students took an AP class and scored a 3 or higher, the score generally required to receive college credit for a course. Expanded access to AP programs across the state are largely to thank, as the percentage of all students who took an AP Exam in high school has risen nearly 13 percent over the past 10 years.

This growth also translates to cost savings for families. The College Board estimates the college credit earned by students passing Advanced Placement tests has saved Washington families nearly $58 million on tuition in 2018 alone.

In recent years, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has pinpointed dual credit programs such as Advanced Placement as a place where state efforts can focus on closing opportunity gaps among Washington students.

Data show this is having an impact, especially for students of color. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of students of color scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams has risen. For Black/African American students in particular, the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam nearly doubled.

“Dual credit opportunities like AP are one of the indicators we use to ensure students are on track to graduation,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We are encouraged by the growth in the number of students of color accessing AP courses and passing the exams as we continue working to close opportunity gaps in Washington state.”

Percentage of Washington Students Scoring a 3 or Higher on AP Exams, 10-year Trend

Perccentage of Washington Students Scoring a 3 or Higher on AP Exams, 10-Year Trend

Data also show that over the past 10 years, nearly double the percentage of students experiencing poverty are taking AP courses and passing the exams.

During the 2018–19 school year, OSPI is continuing the AP Test Fee Reduction program, which allows students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch to take AP exams cost-free.

In addition to expanded access to dual credit, this increase in successful AP course taking is also the result of a heightened focus by school districts on dual credit programs.

In 2018, the College Board recognized Kelso, Othello, Lake Washington, and Issaquah as AP Honor Roll districts. Honor Roll districts are selected because they have increased access to AP courses and the percentage of students who score a 3 or higher on the exams.

“We are pleased to see growth in the number of students taking AP classes and passing AP exams,” said Mary Beth Tack, Superintendent of Kelso School District. “We continue to focus on expanding AP offerings and dual credit opportunities for career and college readiness for all Kelso students.”

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