- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s high school seniors are trailing students in other states when it comes to Advanced Placement exams, according to a national report released Tuesday.

The College Board, which administers the exams, said 9.9 percent of Nebraska’s high school seniors scored a 3 or higher in 2013. The AP exams give high school students a way to earn college credit, but many colleges and universities require at least a 3 before they award credit.

Nationally, 20.1 percent of the class of 2013 scored at least a 3 on an AP exam last year. The tests in 34 different subjects are designed to be rigorous and are graded in a way that allows for comparisons between students from different schools.

The report said 3,264 graduates took AP exams in Nebraska in 2013 out of the 19,210 students who completed high school last year. Of those students who took an exam while in high school, 1,903 scored at least a 3.

The number of high-scoring Nebraska student has increased since 2003, when only 715 received a score of 3 or higher.

Nebraska Department of Education spokeswoman Betty VanDeventer said many high school students receive college credit in other ways, including dual credit courses offered by the state’s colleges. Most Nebraska colleges accept AP credits, she said, but some charge students to count their AP exams as college credit.

“The ease of transferring credits and the cost of AP exams appear to be factors,” VanDeventer said.

The report said a larger share of blacks and Hispanics in Nebraska took the test in 2013, compared to the prior year, although the state continued to see “an equity gap.”

Blacks accounted for 5.4 percent of the 2013 graduating class, and 4 percent of the test takers. Hispanics made up 11.6 percent of the graduating class, and 7.9 percent of the test takers. American Indians were 1 percent of the graduating class, and 0.5 percent took the test.

AP exam participation has doubled nationally over the past decade, with 3.2 million exams taken by the class of 2013, according to the report.

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