- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A slightly larger number of Arkansas high school students took Advanced Placement tests in 2015 compared to 2014, and more of them earned high enough scores to qualify for college credit.

In total, 25,757 public school students took Advanced Placement exams during the 2014-15 school year. That accounts for almost a 1 percent increase from the roughly 25,550 students who took the tests last year.

Just over one-third of this year’s test takers earned a score of 3 or higher on at least one Advanced Placement exams, according to Arkansas Department of Education data. That’s up from 32 percent in the 2013-14 school year, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1P7CIm3 ) reported.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key said the new Advanced Placement numbers signal educational progress in the state.

“The growth of AP participation and results demonstrate that the hard work of educators is paying off,” Key said.

Brett Powell, the new director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said the Advanced Placement increases also indicate more students are prepared for college.

“There are many studies that show that students who complete rigorous courses such as these in high schools are more likely to successfully complete college and complete it on time,” Powell said.

State education officials and lawmakers have made several efforts over the years to promote student enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, most notably having Arkansas foot the bill for students to take the tests, which usually cost $82 apiece. High schools also are required to offer at least one Advanced Placement course in the four core academic areas of math, English, science and socials studies.

Advanced Placement tests can help incoming college students save money on tuition and finish their degrees faster.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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