More Iowa high school students are taking at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam, according to a report released today by the College Board, which administers the AP program.
The graduating Class of 2009 did well on the test and had more class members take the exam than previous classes. Approximately 66 percent of the Class of 2009 that took an AP exam during their high school career scored a 3 or higher. This is higher than the national average, which is 59 percent. Many colleges and universities award college credit or advanced placement into higher-level college courses to students with high AP exam scores. A score of 3 or above is considered to be college-level performance. AP exams are scored on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being the highest possible score.
Of the 35,466 students of the 2009 class, 4,691 members or 13.2 percent took at least one AP exam during their four years in high school. This is higher than five years ago, when only 9.6 percent of the 2004 graduating class took at least one AP exam.
The increase is partly because in 2008 the Iowa legislature allocated $40 per AP exam taken by any Iowa student. This was a one-time allocation and was not reinstated for the 2009-2010 school year. Low-income students may still take an exam at no cost through federal funding administered through the Iowa Department of Education.
The long-term participation increase is due, in part, to the availability of Iowa Online AP Academy. The Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy was established to deliver AP courses to high school students across the state using online technology and the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). The academy's focus is on providing AP courses to accredited rural and small schools in Iowa.
Advanced Placement is one option for Iowa students to potentially earn college credit while still in high school. To help more high school students access college credit - regardless of where they live, their career path, or family income - the Iowa legislature passed the Senior Year Plus program in 2008. The program helps provide access to college credit through Advanced Placement courses, Concurrent enrollment (previously and commonly called dual-credit) courses, Post-secondary Enrollment Options Act courses, Career Academy courses and Iowa Communication Network (ICN) and Iowa Learning Online courses. Many of these programs have existed in Iowa for some time, but Senior Year Plus offers improvements and helps make options easier to understand for parents and students.