For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 22, 2018

Illinois outpacing the nation in increasing low-income students’ participation in Advanced Placement

Chicago Public Schools named national AP District of the Year

SPRINGFIELD – Data released by the College Board show Illinois' efforts to improve students' access to Advanced Placement (AP) are paying off. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) covered a portion of the AP exam fee for all students who qualified as low-income in 2017. The fee reduction resulted in an 11 percent increase in the number of low-income students taking AP exams over 2016 levels – well above the 7 percent national increase and three times greater than the 3.6 percent average increase in states that did not provide funding.

Success on AP exams can earn students early college credit, potentially making college more affordable or allowing students to take more advanced or elective courses. In May 2017, the state's public and private high school students earned a 3 or higher on 141,383 AP exams. Illinois' AP program delivered a total potential cost savings of $192,576,370 for students and families in a single year, assuming an average rate of three credit hours granted per AP exam by colleges and universities at an average of $454.03 per credit hour.

“We have tremendous human capital in Illinois," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Closing gaps in opportunity and support for our students drives economic and social growth for our communities. The success of our AP program shows what happens when we invest in equity."

The College Board also named Chicago Public Schools the national AP District of the Year among all large-sized school districts in the United States and Canada. The College Board selects one AP District of the Year for each category of districts (small-, medium-, and large-sized) based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data. Illinois school districts have won AP District of the Year awards in five of the past eight years – a testament to Illinois' efforts to maximize college and career opportunities for all students.

ISBE has requested an appropriation of $2 million in fiscal year 2019 to continue providing the fee reduction for low-income students and making AP participation possible for all students. The agency also has requested $1 million to expand the AP program to additional schools through teacher professional development and assistance for students to enroll and succeed in AP courses. Part of this funding will support the Lead Higher Initiative, whose partnership with Illinois aims to enroll 100,000 low-income students and students of color in AP and International Baccalaureate courses.

Additional highlights from Illinois' AP successes include:

  • 23 Illinois school districts made the class of 2017 AP District Honor Roll. (Full list available on the College Board site.)
  • Illinois is outpacing the nation in increasing the number of Hispanic students taking AP exams. Hispanic students' participation increased by 12.1 percent from 2016 to 2017 in Illinois – compared to 8.8 percent nationally.
  • 26.3 percent of Illinois students in the class of 2017 scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school – up from 14.5 percent in 2007. Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for growth over the past 10 years in the number of students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school.
  • 38.9 percent of Illinois students in the class of 2017 took an AP exam during high school – up from 21.2 percent in 2007.
  • 63.9 percent of AP exams taken by Illinois students in the class of 2017 resulted in a score of 3 or higher – compared to 56.2 percent nationally. (Individual students may take more than one exam.)