Officials: Georgia makes Advanced Placement gains in access, scores

ATLANTA – State officials are praising gains made in preparing Georgia high schoolers for college-level rigor.

Georgia has more seniors passing and scoring a 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams this year compared to last, according to The College Board’s Advanced Placement Report to the Nation.

The report, released this week, revealed 18,535 students scored a 3 or higher this year, compared to 17,767 last year. It measures progress of the high school Class of 2013.

It denotes a higher percentage of Georgia’s seniors, 21.3 percent, are scoring a 3 or higher compared to the 20.1 percent U.S. average — one of 17 states to have a higher percentage than the national average.

African-American students in Georgia rank third in the nation in the percentage of seniors scoring a 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams.

Officials said the state ranked 13th nationwide in its 9.1 percent increase in seniors scoring 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams over the past 10 years. The cohort of Georgia graduates taking at least one Advanced Placement exam also more than doubled over the decade.

The number of low-income students taking the exams increased more than tenfold, according to the data. That is to say that low-income graduates from 2013 accounted for nearly 23 percent of those who scored 3 or higher on an exam, compared to 3.9 percent of low-income graduates from 2003.

Last year, the Georgia Department of Education allocated $1.3 million to pay for one Advanced Placement exam for any student qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch in order to increase access to low-income students.

Officials said that expansion has resulted in a significant increase in the number of qualifying Advanced Placement exam scores typically required for college credit.

State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said he was delighted to see continued growth in the college-level courses and in student achievement.

“The AP Program offers students the skills they need for college success, and we are pleased to see dramatic growth in the number of students participating and succeeding in these courses,” said Barge.

Officials boast that more Georgia students than ever before are succeeding on Advanced Placement exams. More than 39.6 percent of 2013 graduates took an exam, compared to just over 21 percent in 2003. And 21 percent of those 2013 graduates scored 3 or higher on an exam, compared to 12 percent from 2003.

Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president who leads the Advanced Placement program, praised the state’s efforts.

“Georgia’s administrators and educators are obviously committed to broadening AP access to more low-income and minority students,” said Parker. “We congratulate them on their successes and encourage them as they move forward to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to reach their full potential.”