SuperTalk Mississippi

State’s AP scores & participation rising

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More Mississippi students are participating in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and test scores are slightly improving.

With 9,445 public school students taking AP exams, 4,478 received a qualifying score of 3 or higher in the 2017-18 school year. The gains are a 1 percent increase over the previous school year.

While the overall increases in AP participation and performance were slight, the number of African-American students achieving a qualifying score on the exams increased 10% over the previous school year and Hispanic student achievement increased 7.3%.

“Students who achieve a qualifying score on an AP exam prove they have met a national standard for mastering college-level material,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “AP success among African-American and Hispanic students this year indicates the achievement gap in advanced coursework is narrowing.”

Courtesy of the MDE

AP participation and performance among Mississippi students have both nearly doubled since 2013. According to the College Board, which administers the AP program, Mississippi’s smaller-than-usual increase in participation in 2017-18 may be due to a 10 percent drop in the number of students using a College Board fee subsidy to pay for the exam.

In 2017-18, 74 percent of students qualified for an AP exam fee reduction, but only 28 percent of students taking AP exams used the subsidy. Districts are also allowed to use federal funds to help pay for AP tests for low-income students.

“Increasing access to AP courses for all students is a state priority because it helps students achieve at higher levels in high school and college,” Wright said. “Financial help for AP is available to students in need.”

Starting in the fall of 2019, all eight Mississippi public universities will grant 3 college credits to students with AP scores of 3 or higher and up to 6 credit hours for certain exam subjects with AP scores of 4 or 5. That means students who are taking AP courses this school year can reduce the cost of attending a Mississippi university.

In addition, research shows that students achieving a 3 or higher on an AP exam perform well in subsequent college courses, take more college courses in the same discipline and are more likely to graduate from college within four years.

The Mississippi Department of Education implemented an AP Initiative in 2015 to increase statewide participation in AP courses. The effort includes raising awareness about AP benefits, increasing access to AP opportunities and providing AP-focused professional development for teachers, principals and counselors. Participation in AP and other accelerated courses is a factor in accountability grades.

The number of AP scholar awards has nearly doubled since 2015, jumping from 585 in the 2014-15 school year to 1,092 in 2017-18. AP scholar awards are given to students who earn qualifying scores on multiple AP exams.

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