The number of Arkansas students taking Advanced Placement tests and their overall scores increased in 2013, state education officials said last week.
Scores of 3 or higher out of a possible 5 increased 8.6 percent among Arkansas test takers, compared to a national increase of 6.1 percent, the state Department of Education said. A score of 3 or higher on the exam is generally accepted for college credit at colleges around the country.
Information released Sept. 26 by College Board, the nonprofit entity that provides SAT and AP assessments, also shows that the number of Arkansas students who took AP exams increased 6.6 percent, compared to 5.7 percent for the nation.
"Arkansas has taken great strides to improve not only the number of students taking AP assessments, but the overall scores as well," state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell said in a news release.
In addition to providing additional training for teachers and an increase in the number of pre-AP classes offered at the junior high school level, the increase can be attributed to Act 2152 of 2005, which made Arkansas the only state in the country that pays for AP exams, education officials said.
Every high school in the state offers a minimum of four AP classes in the core areas of English, social studies, math and science. Students who take the college-level classes have the opportunity to qualify for college credit based on their scores on the AP exams, which are given each May.
The most popular AP exams in Arkansas in 2013 were English language, English literature, U.S. history, world history and calculus AB.
College Board also announced that the average SAT scores in critical reading, mathematics and writing increased slightly from 2012. Although most colleges and universities accept both ACT and SAT assessments, a majority of students in Arkansas take the ACT. In 2013, 897 students took the SAT.