Arkansas students show improved participation, scores on AP exams


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas public and private school students took 13,933 Advanced Placement exams in May 2013 that resulted in scores of 3, 4 or 5, up from 12,932 in 2012, state education officials said Tuesday.

“These scores show that Arkansas students are seizing the opportunity to excel as they prepare for college and careers,” state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell said. “The AP program not only challenges students, it allows them to earn college credit in the process.”

A score of 3 or higher is generally accepted for college credit. The 2013 scores represent a potential savings to students of more than $10 million, according to a state Department of Education news release.

“We’re pleased to see so many more Arkansas students are making higher scores,” said Shane Broadway, director of the state Department of Higher Education. “We know this improves college readiness and increases the likelihood of college completion — good for each individual student and Arkansas as a whole.”

College Board, the nonprofit entity that provides AP and SAT assessments, released a report on AP participation and scores Tuesday. The report also noted that seniors at Arkansas public schools took 12,140 exams that resulted in scores of 3 or higher in May 2013, up significantly from 3,410 a decade earlier.

“This success can be attributed to Act 2152 of 2005, which made Arkansas the only state that pays for AP exams,” Kimbrell said. “As a result, the financial barrier for a lot of students was removed.”

Other information in the report:

—The Alma, Beebe, Farmington and Prairie Grove school districts were among 477 districts in the U.S. and Canada that were named to the Advanced Placement District Honor Roll for increasing access to AP coursework while maintaining or increasing the percentage of students who earned scores of 3 or higher on AP exams.

—The Class of 2013 at Arkansas public schools included 12,670 students who completed high school having taken an AP exam, up from 12,175 in 2012 and 2,955 in 2003.

—The Class of 2013 at Arkansas public schools included 4,170 students from low-income backgrounds who completed high school having taken an AP exam, up from 3,692 in 2012 and 285 in 2003. Of those students, 1,036 scored a 3 or higher in 2013, up from 959 in 2012 and 116 in 2003.

—The Class of 2013 at Arkansas public schools included 1,792 black students who completed high school having taken an AP exam, down slightly from 1,801 in 2012 but up significantly from 200 in 2003. Of those students, 215 scored a 3 or higher in 2013, down slightly from 217 in 2012 but up from 48 in 2003.