Arkansas students make gains on AP exams


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas has improved in both the number of students taking Advancement Placement tests and students’ scores on the tests, state education officials said Monday.

The number of students taking AP exams this year was 22,857, a 7.4 percent increase from last year. The number of tests administered increased by 8.6 percent to 39,548, officials said.

Also, the number of students scoring a 3, 4 or 5, on a scale of 1 to 5, increased by 11.8 percent to 12,241.

“This is great news and evidence that Arkansas students are embracing the rigorous coursework and what it means to be ready for college and careers,” state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell said.

Kimbrell said Arkansas’ adoption of the Common Core academic standards, which are designed to promote college and career readiness, is helping more students prepare for higher learning.

“Preparing students to succeed in college without remediation is important to parents, to employers and to the broader community,” he said.

Education officials also said the scores show that minority students’ performance has improved significantly in recent years.

Of the 3,069 black students taking AP exams, or about 13.4 percent of test takers, 489 scored a 3 or higher on 4,964 exams, a 123.3 increase since 2007.

Of the 1,696 Hispanic students taking the tests, or about 7.4 percent of test takers, 813 student scored a 3 or higher on 2,945 exams, a 133.6 percent increase since 2007.

Education officials also said the College Board has released data on students’ performance on the SAT exam, which about 4 percent of Arkansas’ 2012 graduating class took. Most students in the state take the ACT exam rather than the SAT as part of the process of applying for college.

Arkansas students’ average SAT score in critical reading dropped by three points to 565; their average score in math dropped by six points to 567; and their average score in writing dropped by six points to 547.