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News Release - Colorado students make gains on annual AP tests

Colorado students make gains on annual AP tests

State has fifth highest 10-year growth in graduates scoring 3 or higher

Colorado’s high school students made significant gains on Advance Placement tests taken in 2015, according to The College Board that released the state-level AP Cohort Data Report Wednesday.

In Colorado, 27.8 percent of Class of 2015 students scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam – the seventh highest rank in the nation and a figure that eclipses the national average of 22.4 percent. Ten years ago only 16.2 percent of Colorado’s graduating class scored a 3 or higher on an exam. The 11.6 percentage point growth over 10 years is tied with California for fifth highest increase in the nation.

“Colorado students have identified the benefits of taking college-level courses while in high school, allowing them to build necessary skills for college and career,” said Rich Crandall, Colorado’s Education Commissioner. “This is a testament to the hard work of both our students and their teachers.”

Colorado was commended for continuing to increase the number of students taking AP courses. A total of 22,161 graduates in 2015 took an AP exam or 44.3 percent of the student population. This roughly doubles the amount of Colorado graduates from 2005, when only 11,333 students, or 25.3 percent of seniors, took an exam.

In all, Colorado high school students took a total of 46,397 AP exams in 2015. Based on students’ opportunities to earn at least 3 college credits for each AP exam score of 3 or higher, this represents an estimated 139,191 college credits. At an average rate of $324.93 per credit hour, the potential cost savings for the state’s students and families was more than $45 million.

However, Colorado and the nation still struggle to narrow the equity gap among low-income students taking AP courses.  In Colorado, where 41.6 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch benefits, only 19.4 percent of those students took AP exams. Of those, only 15.3 percent scored a 3 or higher on tests.

“There is room for improvement,” Crandall said. “We want to continue to provide all students the opportunity to experience the benefits of challenging course work in their school careers.”