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Minnesota Students Post Gains in Advanced Placement Scores and Participation




Sandy Connolly, Minnesota Office of Higher Education, (651) 259-3902
Randy Wanke, Minnesota Department of Education, (651) 582-1145

The Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education released new data today showing a nearly 20 percent increase in the number of Minnesota high school students taking Advanced Placement tests.

While participation increased, the data show an 18 percent increase in the number of students scoring a "3" or higher on their exams, which is the cut score used by most colleges to award college credit to new entering students. Additionally, during the 2005-06 school year, there was an increase of 12 percent in the number of students taking International Baccalaureate (IB) exams.

"In 2005, we proposed and passed 'Get Ready, Get Credit' to bring more opportunities for college credit to high school classrooms," Governor Tim Pawlenty said. "Today's announcement is more evidence that our students will rise to the expectations we set for them. These rigorous classes help prepare our kids for success in the competitive global economy of today and tomorrow."

The Department of Education and Office of Higher Education released data from the College Board showing that 19,601 Minnesota public high school students took AP tests during the 2005-06 school year. That is a 19.4 percent increase from the 2004-05 school year. Additionally, there was an 18.5 percent increase in test results with scores of 3-5. A score of 3 or higher is accepted for college credit at most colleges and universities.

Minnesota Public School Students Taking AP Tests
Advanced Placement# of test takers# of exams taken# of grades 3-5
Change from last year+19.4%+22.2%+18.5%

The AP program provides high school students with the opportunity to take college-level courses in a high school setting.

"This increase in both participation and demonstrated college readiness by Minnesota students is very exciting," Minnesota Office of Higher Education Director Susan Heegaard said. "The increased engagement in AP may be a sign that more students are setting their sights on college."

The increase in the number of students taking AP and IB tests this year coincides with the implementation of the Get Ready, Get Credit program, including $11.5 million in funding, which was proposed by Governor Pawlenty and passed by the legislature during the 2005 legislative session. The program allows students to take college readiness and interest assessments in grades eight and 10 and encourages students to earn college credit while in high school through AP or IB programs, or by passing College Level Exam Program tests, which are a set of assessments also offered by the College Board.

"Under Governor Pawlenty's leadership, we continue to work to close the achievement gap," said Alice Seagren, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education. "Along with continuing to implement a more rigorous system of accountability that focuses on raising expectations, we all need to work together to create a culture of high expectations in every Minnesota classroom."

Earlier this month, Governor Pawlenty announced that grants are now available for schools that are interested in starting or expanding AP courses and programs. The Governor proposed and signed legislation this year that appropriated $1 million to increase access to more rigorous coursework. The legislation establishes a program to raise academic achievement for students in grades six and above through increased student participation in pre-Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement programs.

SAT scores improve

Minnesota students also continued to perform well on the SAT, which is a college entrance exam administered by the College Board that is taken by fewer than 10 percent of Minnesota high school graduates. The ACT is the predominant college entrance exam taken in Minnesota, with the SAT typically taken by students interested in attending college on the east and west coasts.

Minnesota public school students posted SAT mean scores of 592 in critical reading, 602 in mathematics and 572 in writing. These mean scores for the state are compared to a national critical reading mean score of 500, a national math mean score of 514, and a national writing mean score of 492. Over the last five years, Minnesota's mean critical reading and math scores have both increased by 11 points for all Minnesota students.

The SAT scores also showed the need to continue working to close the achievement gap. For example, while Minnesota's average math score was 600, the mean score for African American students was 485.

See more information on Minnesota's 2005-06 AP results and Minnesota's SAT results.

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