College Board reports Illinois ranks fourth in U.S. for increasing the percentage of students who take and pass AP exams. Advanced placement courses and exams, which are familiar to Illinois honors high school students, are courses that are meant to signal the ability of a student to master collegiate-level education in a variety of fields. Many colleges and universities will accept AP test results as a partial substitute for hours of course instruction. AP test results can make the difference, for some students, between graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in four years versus requiring five years or more to complete the required course work for a degree.
State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith announced Illinois’ AP numbers and national standing on Friday, Feb. 24. Almost 40 percent of Illinois’ 2016 high school graduating class took AP tests prior to graduation, with 64 percent of this subset passing their test. This success rate meant that an unprecedented one-quarter of the 2016 Illinois graduating class earned potential college credits from this pathway. This 25 percent number was a sharp increase from 14 percent for 10 years earlier. School districts throughout Illinois are encouraging their pupils to take AP courses and exams. Superintendent Smith’s announcement was based on new nationwide Class of 2016 information from the College Board, the consortium that operates and oversees the Advanced Placement system.