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MDE: more students taking AP exams, getting better scores

Photo courtesy of MDE.

More than 20 percent of Mississippi public high school students in the graduating class of 2017 took an Advanced Placement (AP) Exam while in high school, according to the results from the College Board the percentage of graduates who took an AP exam over the last 10 years doubles.

AP courses are college-level courses offered by trained high school teachers. Mississippi increased the participation in AP courses while increasing performance on the exams. College Board results showed 20.7 percent (5,246) Mississippi public school graduates took at least one AP Exam. In 2007, only 10.7 percent of graduates took an AP exam. Also, 6.5 percent of Mississippi graduates scored 3 or higher. In 2007, only 3.5 percent of graduates scored a 3 or higher.

The Class of 2017 in Mississippi took 12,206 AP Exams during their high school experience – 1,617 more than the class of 2016, and 31.3 percent of AP Exams taken by the Class of 2017 in Mississippi scored 3 or higher, a slight increase from 31.1 percent for the class of 2016.

Across the country, a record number of state higher education systems adopted uniform AP credit policies to help students retain earned credits. Twenty-four states have adopted uniform policies. The Mississippi Department of Education is working with the Institutions of Higher Learning and the Community College Board to adopt a uniform policy in Mississippi. According to the College Board, a score of 3 is the equivalent of passing a college-level course. However, some colleges in Mississippi will only accept a score of 5.

“Mississippi’s students benefit from increased participation and performance in AP courses, and we will continue to encourage opportunities for all students to have access to rigorous courses and to receive credit for passing the exams,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.

Research shows AP students are better prepared for college and more likely to graduate college in four years than non-AP peers. Students earning college credit can save what they would otherwise have to pay for another year of college.

In May 2017, Mississippi public and private high school students took a total of 5,574 AP exams that resulted in scores of 3, 4, or 5. Based on students’ opportunity to earn at least 3 college credits for each AP Exam score of 3 or higher, this represents an estimated 16,722 college credits. At an average rate of $266.27 per credit hour, the total potential cost savings for the state’s students and families was $4,452,567.

Mississippi has room to grow the participation of low-income students in AP classes. The College Board states that 73.7 percent of Mississippi students in the class of 2017 were eligible for free or reduced lunch – up from 72.2 percent for the class of 2016. Of those students, 34.4 percent used a fee reduction – up from 32.3 percent for the class of 2016. With the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) changes, Mississippi committed to partially fund AP Exams for low-income students in 2017.

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