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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-32
April 27, 2015
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

California 6th Nationally in Advanced Placement Exam Scores

SACRAMENTO—Earning the state a sixth-place national ranking for the second year running, California's Class of 2014 kept the momentum going in the percentage of students taking and performing well on Advanced Placement® (AP) exams, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

According to the College Board's "AP Cohort Data: Graduating Class of 2014" report, 29.1 percent of California's 2014 graduates earned a score of three or higher on an end-of-course AP exam taken during their high school career. This represents a 2.1 percentage point increase from 2013 and is 7.5 percentage points above the national average. The state has experienced an 11.3 percentage point growth in AP performance over the past decade.

Nationally, 21.6 percent of high school graduates in the Class of 2014 scored at least a three on the five-level AP exam.  Students who get at least a three can earn college credit.

"Progress in AP scores is another sign California is on the right track," Torlakson said. "We have worked hard to better prepare students for careers and college in the 21st century by instituting new rigorous academic standards, moving to online assessment testing, giving local school districts more decision-making power, and providing more resources to the districts and students with the greatest needs."

California is also outpacing the national average in advancing opportunities for students who come from low-income families. Of the 54.1 percent of the state's K-12 students eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program in the Class of 2014, 43.4 percent took at least one AP exam and 39 percent of those test takers scored a three or higher. Nationally, 49.6 percent of U.S. public school students were low income, 29 percent of them took at least one AP exam and 23.3 percent of those test takers scored a three or higher.

"I am pleased to see growing participation among diverse student groups in our state. California is stepping up to serve all our students and giving them access to the kind of rigorous education that will help them succeed in college and the workplace," Torlakson said.

California receives federal funding to pay a portion of the AP exams for income-eligible public school students. For the May 2014 testing cycle, the California Department of Education (CDE) reimbursed $8,503,858 to 411 local educational agencies (LEAs) for 229,834 AP exams for income-eligible students. End-of-course AP exams are usually given in May.

For more information on the operation of the College Board's [] External link opens in new window or tab. Advanced Placement program in California, please visit the California Department of Education Advanced Placement Web page. 

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, February 24, 2020
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