NEW ORLEANS — The percentage of Louisiana public high school juniors and seniors earning college credit on Advanced Placement exams has grown markedly, but it remains low compared to the national average at about 4 percent.
State figures show the number of students scoring well enough on AP tests to earn college credit grew from 5,144 in 2013 to 6,407 this year, an increase of close to 25 percent.
But, at 4.1 percent, the state ranks second from the bottom — with Mississippi coming in last — in the percentage of students earning college credit with AP courses. The national average is 13.2 percent, according to the College Board, a nonprofit organization that offers the AP courses and exams.
Participation in AP classes by Louisiana students continues to be low as well, at less than 14 percent. The College Board said Tuesday that the national average is 22 percent.
However, the state is now ranked 38th for the percentage of high school juniors and seniors taking an AP test. In 2012, Louisiana was last in the nation.
“These compelling numbers signal a strong showing for our students. We still have a long way to go, but these increases show that we are closing the gap,” Louisiana Education Superintendent John White said in a news release accompanying Tuesday’s release of the AP figures by the College Board.
The state noted an increase in the number of black students earning a “3” or higher — the threshold for earning college credit — on AP scores.
The number went from 541 in 2013 to 707 this year. It was a nearly 31 percent increase from 2013 and an 89 percent increase over the 2012 figure of 374.
Participation in AP tests by African-American high school students increased 36 percent from 2,645 in 2013 to 3,598 in 2014, and 137 percent over the last two years from 1,516 in 2012, the department said.
Louisiana has been working to increase participation in the AP courses by, among other things, paying for test fees for low income students taking the exams and providing money to individual school districts for supplemental course programs.
The state also funded summer Advanced Placement course training for teachers and administrators. The Education Department said more than 500 participated this year.