Meridian Star

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February 12, 2014

Miss. students lag on Advanced Placement exams

JACKSON — JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is not only last among states in its share of high school students scoring well on Advanced Placement exams.

It's also falling further behind.

A Tuesday report from the College Board, which administers the exams designed to let high school students earn college credit, highlights growth in the number of test-takers nationwide. It also highlights growth in the number of students earning a 3 on the exams' 5-point-scale, the usual threshold for college credit.

While the share of students earning a 3 rose from 12 percent to 20 percent nationwide over the last 10 years, the share in Mississippi rose from 2.8 percent to 4.4 percent. That's a lower rate of increase than across the country, meaning Mississippi is digging deeper into last-in-the nation status on this measure.

The Mississippi Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

New state Superintendent Carey Wright has said she wants to increase the number of student who take AP courses, but the number of Mississippi high school graduates in both public and private schools who took one or more AP exams fell from 3,615 in 2012 to 3,268 in 2013. The reasons for that decrease weren't immediately clear. The number of high school graduates who scored at least a 3 on one exam held basically steady at 1,132 in 2013.

Mississippi had the third-highest share of exam-takes scoring a 1, the lowest mark, behind Arkansas and the District of Columbia. A much larger share of Arkansas seniors — 46 percent — took at least one AP exam last year.

The College Board encourages districts to do more to move students who are capable of college work into AP courses and to help pay for them to take AP tests. Each exam costs $89, although reductions are available to students who can't afford the cost

Nationwide, black students are under-represented among AP exam takers. While Mississippi made progress in reducing the gap between the share of test-takers and overall students, its gap remains about as high as the nation's.


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