La. students continue to excel on AP exams - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

La. students continue to excel on AP exams

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB News Channel 5) College credits earned on AP exams see greatest increase in state history.

On July 30, Governor Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent John White announced that the number of college credits earned on Advanced Placement (AP) exams has increased by more than 1,000 credits or 25 percent over the past year—the greatest individual increase in state history. Louisiana high school students scored high enough to earn college credit on 5,144 AP exams in 2013.

The credits earned by students who scored a three, four or five on the AP exams are transferable to nearly any college in the nation, and Louisiana leads the country in growth of number of exams taken. 10,529 students took the AP exam in 2013, which is 4,000 more students than last year.

Governor Bobby Jindal said, "Since we took office, we have focused on reforming and improving our education system to ensure that every child in Louisiana has access to a great education. Earlier this year, we announced that Louisiana's graduation rate has reached an all-time high. Today's announcement that a growing number of our state's high school students are already earning college credit before they even leave for school is more proof that our hard work is paying off.

"By eliminating ineffective programs and investing in ones that work, we have no doubt improved outcomes for our students. While today's announcement is great news, we will not stop until every child in Louisiana has the opportunity to get a great education and the skills they need to be successful."

Promoting Advanced Placement is an aspect of Louisiana Believes, the state's plan to ensure all students are college or career ready. AP offers students the opportunity to earn college credit during high school by completing rigorous coursework and demonstrating proficiency on a national, standardized end-of-course exam. AP is a national hallmark of college-going success with research showing that students who complete AP coursework are better prepared for college-level work, are more likely to continue their education beyond their freshman year in college, and are more likely to graduate within four to five years. Students participating in AP classes also stand out in the college admissions process and are more competitive in qualifying for scholarships.

To ensure that Louisiana students are provided with the best opportunity to earn college credit through AP exams, that state has devised a strategy to support its educators and students. This strategy includes:

Linking AP results to school accountability by recognizing a passing AP score (three to five) as the highest level of achievement earned by a cohort graduate, earning the maximum 150 points toward the graduation index.

Providing funding to pay for test fees for all students taking AP exams who meet the criteria for low-income students and for students taking exams new to their school, because every child should have the opportunity to succeed.

Supporting the Course Choice program, which provides increased access to AP courses. 

Doubling the number of teachers and administrators taking part in summer AP training, with more than 700 educators across the state participating this year.

"Advanced Placement is the highest indicator of college success, and rather than accept our past ranking of 49th, Louisiana educators and students have risen to the challenge to say that our kids are just as capable and smart as kids anywhere in this country," said State Superintendent John White.

Louisiana is poised to continue its success by working to emphasize the value of AP exams moving forward. This session, Governor Jindal signed into law legislation (SB202) that creates incentives for students to take more rigorous AP courses by giving courses approved by the state additional weight in the calculation of the TOPS GPA. TOPS GPA determines not only a student's eligibility for the TOPS award, but also for additional financial incentives. This ends the incentive to take easier courses in order to get a higher GPA, helping to contribute to the continued growth of AP in our state.

SB 202 also better aligns coursework in different programs of study, such as the Core Four Diploma course sequence and TOPS core sequence, to ensure that students going to four-year colleges have taken a true college preparatory curriculum while in high school. In addition, Senate Resolution 49 requests the Board of Regents to develop a uniform policy regarding the acceptance of college credit hours earned through AP exams. Implementing this policy would ensure fairness and consistency for students and promotes the seamless transfer of posts-secondary credits earned by students.

Vice President of the Board of Secondary and Elementary Education Jim Garvey said, "These results are another example of Louisiana's students, teachers and schools showing us what great success they can achieve when we aim high. Today's high-demand for jobs increasingly requires at least some education beyond high school, and these students are accelerating their achievement of what we want for all children in Louisiana — a steady career and family-supporting income."

Schools across the state have emphasized the importance of AP for students and, as a result, have seen an increase in participation and success. See below for the top ten high schools for the percentage of students scoring at three or higher on AP exams.

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