- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah is one of the top 10 states in the country for student success on Advanced Placement exams, according to a new report from the College Board.

The annual report released Tuesday shows that about 25 percent of Utah’s public high school graduates have earned a passing score on Advanced Placement tests in 2013.

That puts Utah in a tie for seventh with New York.

The exams are offered in 34 different subjects, with rigorous classes and standardized grading. Most colleges and universities will give a student college credit for an exam score of 3, 4 or 5.

The rate of Utah students earning a 3 or higher has grown over the past 10 years.

In 2003, about 19 percent of Utah high school students passed the exam. By 2012, that number had climbed to 24 percent.

Martell Menlove, the state superintendent of public instruction, said Utah’s jump to seventh place was “terrific news.”

Nationally, about 20 percent of graduates scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam in 2013. That’s a sharp increase from 10 years earlier, with only about 12 percent earning a passing grade in 2003.

Maryland led the state rankings in 2013, with close to 30 percent of its graduates scoring 3s or higher.

Mississippi ranks last, with about 4 percent of graduates passing exams.

The Advanced Placement program started in the 1950s and offers high school students a way to earn college credits. Supporters of AP classes and exams say they help transition students to college and allow graduates to stand out in the college admission process.

The programs are growing in popularity, with more than 1 million students, or about 32 percent of all high school graduates, taking the tests across the country in 2013. In 2003, only 19 percent of all high school graduates took the courses.

In Utah, more than 11,000 of the state’s 31,000 high school graduates took the exams in 2013. That’s about 36 percent.

Ten years earlier, about 27 percent of all Utah graduates were taking the courses.

The State Office of Education reported Tuesday that the most popular AP exam subjects for Utah students last year were U.S. history, followed by English literature and language courses.

Menlove said in a statement that AP exams are one part of the programs available for high school students to prepare for college.

He noted that more than 1,000 students are involved in the International Baccalaureate program and more than 27,000 high school students take dual enrollment classes that earn them college credits.

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