For Immediate Release
February 8, 2012

Record Number of Illinois Students Taking AP Exams and Posting Successful Scores

Illinois Moves Closer to AP Equity and Excellence for Latino Students;
Number of Latino graduates taking AP courses quadrupled over the past 10 years

SPRINGFIELD – A record number of Illinois students took AP exams in 2011, bumping Latino students’ participation rates to an all-time high and moving the state closer to equity among this student population. The number of Latino graduates taking AP courses has quadrupled in the last decade, according to ‘The 8th Annual AP Report to the Nation.’  The percentage of Illinois graduates completing more than one AP exam has more than doubled since 2001, and the percentage of seniors posting a successful score on these rigorous exams has increased by 7.5 percent since 2001.

“We have made significant strides during the past decade in Illinois, increasing the number of students taking AP classes and scoring well on AP exams,” said State Superintendent Christopher A. Koch. “I expect these gains to continue for all students as we implement Illinois’ internationally-benchmarked learning standards and better monitor student progress over time.”

Illinois ranks in the upper half of the nation in 2011 for the number of high school seniors – 18.5 percent – who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam. In addition, participation among all categories – by gender, ethnicity and economic class – increased in Illinois as schools implement new, more rigorous college and career-ready standards.

“Reaching equity among our Latino students is an important step in closing the achievement gap and better preparing students to succeed,” said State Board Chairman Gery J. Chico. “We must provide rigorous opportunities for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code to continue Illinois’ economic vitality in the future.”

Illinois ranked 15th in the nation for having the greatest percent of seniors posting a 3 or higher, which studies have shown is predictive of college success and college graduation. The percentage of Illinois students reaching that benchmark has increased by 7.5 percentage points since 2001 when 11 percent of students scored a 3 or higher.  Nearly 30 percent of all high school seniors in the Class of 2011 took at least one AP exam during high school, compared to 20.5 percent in 2006 and 15 percent in 2001.

More of Illinois’ traditionally underserved public high school graduates are participating and succeeding in AP. Research shows that minority and low-income students who earn a 3 or higher on an AP exam are more likely than their peers to earn higher degrees in college and a college degree within five years of enrolling. Some highlights regarding Illinois’ progress toward achieving equity and excellence for its students include:

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted the more rigorous, internationally-benchmarked Common Core Standards in English and mathematics in 2010, and school districts are in the process of implementing those standards in classroom curriculum. Last year, Illinois was named a lead state in a collaborative development of new science standards to be drafted within the next year.  Illinois is also one of 11 states serving on the governing board of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The new online assessments, which will be better aligned to the state standards, will be ready for states to administer in the 2014-15 school year.

Other highlights of the 8th annual AP Report to the Nation:

Illinois Public Schools - Advanced Placement Participation by District: High School Class of 2011 (Map)

Illinois Public Schools - Advanced Placement Performance by District: High School Class of 2011 (Map)