by Will Sentell
Capitol news bureau
September 25, 2012
While Louisiana ranks 49th in the percentage of public high school students who earn college credit, the number of those taking the college preparatory classes ahead of the test has risen sharply, officials said Monday.
The courses, called Advanced Placement, can enhance college success and, in some cases, allow students to enter four-year schools with one or more semesters of credit.
In Louisiana, enrollment in AP classes has risen by 70 percent in the past five years, according to the College Board, which oversees the exams.
In addition, 17 percent more students took the courses during the 2011-12 school year than the previous year, the report says.
“Louisiana has made great progress in growing enrollment in Advanced Placement courses but more needs to be done,” state Superintendent of Education John White said in a prepared statement.
White was unavailable for an interview, said Barry Landry, director of communications for the state Department of Education.
For the class of 2011, which is latest available, 5.6 percent of public high school students in Louisiana scored high enough on the AP test to earn college credit.
That put the state at 49th nationally and ahead of only Mississippi, where 4.5 percent of students qualified for college credit.
Maryland ranks tops in the nation with 27.9 percent of students qualify for college credit.
The national average is 18.1 percent.
State education leaders in December launched a five-year plan for high school students to reach the national average.
Last year only 33 of Louisiana’s 70 school districts offered at least one AP course.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in 2011 to require that all school districts offer at least one AP course for college credit.
This summer the state trained 300 teachers to start AP courses.
It will also fund 2013 test fees for low-income students who take the exams, which cost $87.
Scores on the test range from 1 to 5.
Students typically have to score at least a 3 to earn college credit.
The state, in its annual performance ratings, will reward schools for graduates that score 3 or more on the AP test.
The College Board report issued on Monday shows that Louisiana students earning a 3 or higher rose by 19 percent during the 2011-12 school year and by 62 percent over the last five years.
Enrollment in AP courses among black students rose by 22 percent during the 2011-12 school year and by 113 percent during the past five years.