MADISON — More students took more tests with better results. This is how Wisconsin’s 2017 graduates participated and performed in the Advanced Placement (AP) program according to the “AP Cohort Data Report: Graduating Class of 2017” from the College Board.
Wisconsin had 21,910 graduates in the class of 2017 who took 66,660 AP exams while in high school. That’s an increase of 638 graduates and 3,694 exams from the prior year’s graduating class. The 2017 cohort represent 36.4 percent of estimated graduates. Their success rate — the percentage of exams scored three or higher on a five-point scale — was 25.5 percent, up 0.7 percent from the 2016 cohort. Nationally for 2017, 1.17 million graduates took 3.98 million AP exams with a success rate of 22.8 percent.
“It’s heartening to see an increasing number of our students leaving high school with proven college and career readiness,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “The Advanced Placement program is one opportunity for our kids to experience the rigor of college-level coursework and, through examination, gain credits or advanced standing that boosts their chances for postsecondary success.”
The AP program is made up of 38 courses, the newest being AP Computer Science Principles. Wisconsin had 125 of its 2017 graduates who took that end-of-course exam with 88.0 percent scoring three or higher. The exam is among a dozen offered in the popular science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) fields. The state’s 2017 graduates took 23,420 STEM exams a 7.1 percent increase from the prior year’s graduates.
Students who earn an AP exam score of three or higher on the five-point scale may receive college credit, advanced standing, or both from many colleges and universities. Students from low-income families represent 13.6 percent of 2017 state graduates who took an AP exam. Among those students, 10.8 percent earned a score of three or higher on an exam. Wisconsin public school districts are required to pay exam fees for students whose family income meets guidelines for free or reduced-price school meals. The 2017 AP report says that states that contribute to exam fees for low-income students have narrowed equity gaps. Ten years ago in Wisconsin, 5.4 percent of low-income graduates took an AP exam and 3.6 percent earned a score of three or higher on an exam. Five years ago, 11.0 percent of economically disadvantaged graduates took AP exams with 8.4 percent earning a three or higher on an exam.
“We know that equity in access and opportunity is an issue for students of color, students with disabilities, students from low-income families, and those who are learning English,” Evers said. “While we are making progress in closing equity gaps, our goal is for all students to have access to the resources and rigor they need to be successful. And, we’re not there yet.”
The College Board named 25 Wisconsin public school districts to its Eighth Annual Honor Roll. Based on three years of data, the honor roll recognizes districts that are committed to increasing access to AP for underrepresented students while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of three or higher.
Wisconsin’s 2017 graduates who were successful on their AP exams are estimated to save nearly $39.5 million in college costs. The calculation assumes three credits for each AP course scored three or higher and an average cost for in-state tuition and fees of $298.73 per credit hour.
NOTES: The College Board’s “AP Cohort Data Report: Graduating Class of 2017” provides information for public school graduates only. Breakdowns by racial and ethnic groups or by schools and districts are not available from this report.