College credit ranks rise

Despite being ranked 49th in the nation, state Superintendent of Education John White said Tuesday he is confident Louisiana will improve its rate of public high-school students who earn college credit.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and White announced in Ruston that college credits earned by public high-school students rose by 25 percent this year, the most ever in a state that has long lagged in Advanced Placement classes.

The rigorous high school courses can pave the way for college credit — sometimes one or more semesters — for students who score at least a 3 on a test with a score range of 1 to 5.

More than 10,500 students took tests this year, which is 4,000 more than last year, and White said Louisiana is a leader in the growth of test takers and of those scoring 3 or higher.

The College Board, which oversees the exam, announces state-by-state snapshots in February.

“There is no doubt that this will improve our ranking above 49th,” White said.

Earlier this year, the College Board announced 6.3 percent of Louisiana’s Class of 2012 scored a 3 or higher on an AP test.

That means the state is only higher than Mississippi at 4.6 percent.

The national average is 19.5 percent.

Last year, 1,531 public high-school seniors in Louisiana scored a 3 or higher, according to the College Board.

White said that grew by 762 students this time, but that figure is not limited to seniors.

While AP classes were largely ignored for years in Louisiana, officials have taken a wide range of steps to change that.

In 2011, state education leaders announced a five-year plan for high school students to reach the national average.

AP results also are linked to annual school performance scores, and students who score 3 or higher earn key points that help determine a school’s grade.

Earlier this year, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill that gives AP classes additional weight in calculationg grade-point averages for TOPS, the state-funded scholarship.

Maryland ranked tops in the nation in its percentage of seniors who scored 3 or higher at 29.6 percent.