More Arizona High School Students Scoring Well On AP Exams

February 11, 2014

The number of Arizona high school students earning college credit based on Advanced Placement exam scores has nearly doubled over the past decade. 

The new report from the College Board finds nearly 14.5 percent of Arizona high schoolers scored at least a three on an AP exam last year. They are graded on scales of 1 to 5. In 2003, that number was less than 7.5 percent.

But, Arizona's results are still below the national average, according to the report.

"We have seen some very positive growth in our numbers," said Peter Laing, senior director of the Advanced Placement program at the Arizona Department of Education. "We're encouraged that we have more students earning a 3 or higher that even took the AP exam 10 years ago."

Arizona's figures still come in below the national average of 20 percent, but the report notes that the state has improved in the number of minorities taking the exams and better positioning themselves for college.

Arizona had nearly 61,000 high school graduates in 2013, and one-fourth took an AP exam.

"That shows that our students are highly capable and when given the opportunity, they can rise to the challenge and perform at the highest level," Laing said. "It's a key strategy to help ensure our students are college-ready and career-ready."

The ranking places Arizona 33rd in the country, just behind Rhode Island and Alaska and just ahead of Washington, D.C. and Idaho. Across the country, a fifth of high school students met the standard. Maryland, Connecticut, Virginia and Massachusetts led the country. Also nationwide, more students and more low-income students are taking AP exams than a decade ago. In Arizona, about a quarter of high school graduates took an AP exam last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated 2/11/2014 2:45 p.m.