Continuing a recent trend, more North Carolina high school students are taking and succeeding in college-level Advanced Placement courses, according to a report released today by The College Board, which administers the AP program and exams.
The number of public school students in North Carolina taking at least one AP exam in 2016-17 increased 6 percent from the previous year, compared to a 5.2 percent increase nationally, according to The College Board data.
“It is encouraging to see more students taking advantage of ways to get college-level credit that can save them and their families money on higher-education costs,” said North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson. “Earning college credit while still in high school is one example of the multiple pathways to success that our public schools provide to students.”
In all, 74,041 students in the state’s public schools took a total of 138,282 AP exams, of which 71,337 received a proficient score of 3 or higher. Compared to the 2015-16, North Carolina saw a 6.9 percent increase in the number of exams taken and a 7.1 percent increase in test takers earning a score of at least 3. The test is scored on a scale of 1 to 5.
Successful performance on Advanced Placement exams can help students earn transferable college credit and save on college costs. In addition, research shows that students who take AP classes are more likely to persist in college and graduate in four years.
The College Board also released results today on a revised version of the SAT college admissions exam, showing North Carolina’s public school graduates scoring above the national average among public school graduates for the second straight year. But with a new test administered beginning in March 2016, the results for the class of 2017 set a new baseline and are not comparable to previous years.
The combined average score for 2017 public school graduates in North Carolina was 1,074, compared to 1,044 for public school graduates nationally. For all graduates, North Carolina’s average score was 1,081, compared to 1,060 nationally.
The state’s SAT results reflect the performance of fewer students in North Carolina taking the exam. The scores of 44,325 graduates of North Carolina public schools in 2017 represent about half the state’s 2017 graduates – a decrease of about 8 percent from the previous year’s 48,327 graduates who took the exam. Fewer public school students in North Carolina are taking the college admissions exam because the state now requires and pays the cost for all 11th graders to take the ACT college-readiness exam, a measure also widely used in college admissions decisions.
Compared to the nation as a whole, North Carolina 2017 graduates who took the new SAT earned higher average scores on both the evidence-based reading and writing portion of the exam as well as the math portion. On the reading and writing section, North Carolina’s average score was 542, compared to 527 nationally; on the math portion, North Carolina’s average score was 532, compared to 517 nationally.
The College Board says the new version of the SAT is designed to better measure the essential knowledge and skills for college and career readiness and success, as shown by research, and to connect more closely to classroom learning. Results for 2017 graduates show that 50 percent of North Carolina’s test-takers met the college and career readiness benchmarks for both reading and writing and for math, compared to 46 percent of national test takers.