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More Illinois students earn Advanced Placement credit

Flickr | orangeacid

Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith is touting the state’s 2016 Advanced Placement test results.

Illinois ranks 4th in the nation for increasing the percent of students who take and pass AP exams according to a report from the College Board, which administers the tests.

Illinois also has the most diverse group of test takers, Smith said Wednesday during the state board of education meeting. 

“Huge kudos to the districts, the leadership in the state, we’ve made it a priority to increase rigor and access to high-quality content,” he said.

About a quarter of Illinois's 2016 high school graduates earned college credit for AP tests — up from 14 percent the decade before.

Smith said more Illinois students are passing AP tests, in part, because districts are encouraging more Illinois students to take AP classes.  And since December, low-income students can also receive scholarships to help pay for the tests, dropping the cost per test from $93 to $15.

“We continue to lead the country in terms of adding students and diverse students to our AP test-taking,” Smith said.

Illinois topped Missouri in the participation rate of AP exams, though both states' high school graduates had about the same rate of success, passing about 64 percent of the tests.

Almost 40 percent of Illinois' 2016 graduating class took an AP test, compared to less than 20 percent of Missouri graduates.

That's because many Missouri school districts offer college credit at specific universities rather than through AP courses, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spokeswoman Sarah Potter said.

“Missouri is a dual credit state where districts help students gain college credit while still in high school,” Potter said. “We are seeing our participation increase in AP, and we would like to see more districts offer AP courses.”

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille.