More Utah students taking AP exams, pass rate up

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — More Utah high schoolers took the Advanced Placement tests that can get them a running start on college credits, and their success rate is also on the rise, according to the company that administers the exams.

Data released Monday by the testing company College Board show Utah saw a 10.5 percent jump in the number of students taking the tests in 2012, and an 11 percent increase in the pass rate.

“Utah is seeing greater participation, greater diversity in participation and still increasing test scores,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Larry K. Shumway. “This is great news not just for Utah schools, but for Utah’s future,”

High school students usually take the subject-specific AP exams after taking a corresponding college-level class. A passing score is a 3, 4 or 5 on a five-point scale, and qualifies the student for college credit.

A total of 20,449 students in Utah participated in the program this year, taking 33,017 exams. The state pass rate for 2012 was 68 percent, significantly higher than the national pass rate of 59 percent.

State education officials note that participation in AP exams in 2012 was up among all ethnic and racial groups except American Indian students, where numbers dropped by nine students.

Hispanics saw the biggest gain, with 125 more students participating in the program – a 23.8 percent increase from the previous year.

On Monday, the College Board also released statewide data on the SAT college entrance exam. Utah students saw score increases in each of the test subjects, including math, reading and writing.

A total of 1,954 students took the SAT, down 8 percent from the year earlier. The ACT exam is far more popular in Utah – 97 percent of the state’s high school seniors took it in 2012.

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