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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Contact:Jacqueline Reis, 781-338-3115

Massachusetts Leads Nation in Advanced Placement Success

Has highest percentage of graduating class scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam

MALDEN - Massachusetts is the top state in the nation in terms of the percentage of the class of 2016 that scored a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam, according to results that the College Board released today. In addition, the Commonwealth had the highest five- and ten-year growth in the percentage of graduates who scored a 3 or higher.

That accomplishment reflects both strong participation – approximately 44.1 percent of Massachusetts' class of 2016 took at least one AP exam while they were in high school – and frequent success, with 31 percent of the overall class scoring 3 or higher out of a possible 5 on an AP exam.

"We are very pleased to see such a large percentage of Massachusetts students successfully participating in Advanced Placement coursework and exams and look forward to continued success in expanding those efforts," Governor Charlie Baker said.

"These results bode well for the Commonwealth to remain a leader in providing strong career pathways to science, technology, engineering, math and other fields as students continue to participate in advanced course work before college," Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said.

"After 10 years of unprecedented gains in AP access and performance, Massachusetts has vaulted into the number one position among all 50 states, leading the nation in AP participation and performance. This historic result, the first time Massachusetts has ranked first in the nation in AP results, is thanks to the hard work and commitment of the commonwealth's leaders, educators, partner organizations, and students and their families," said Trevor Packer, head of the College Board's AP Program.

Participation by members of the class of 2016 rose by 4.1 percent compared to the prior year, and the number of graduates who scored a 3 or higher increased by 5.6 percent. A score of 3 or above on an AP exam shows that a student is capable of doing the work for an introductory college-level course in that subject area, according to the College Board.

"It is encouraging to know that these strong results occurred even as the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses increased," Secretary of Education James Peyser said. "Congratulations to all of the students and teachers whose hard work is reflected here."

"I am proud of the progress the Commonwealth's schools continue to make. Succeeding in Advanced Placement courses is an indicator of preparation for academic success after high school," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "The numbers the College Board reported today would not have been possible without the dedication of educators and students, and in Massachusetts, we have also benefited from Mass Insight Education, which has worked for many years to expand access to AP courses."

"I want to congratulate the students and teachers for their hard work in making Massachusetts number one," said Dr. Susan Lusi, president and CEO of Mass Insight Education. "Mass Insight Education is proud to support this work through the partnerships we have between our content directors and AP teachers. The results show that we are making a difference, and the investment made by the Governor and Legislature in this program is closing the achievement gap and preparing students for college success."

Massachusetts (31 percent) is first in the nation, ahead of Maryland (30.4 percent) and Connecticut (30.1 percent), in terms of the percentage of the class of 2016 who scored 3 or higher on an AP exam.

Hispanic/Latino and black students continue to make gains in participation and performance. In 2006, Hispanic/Latino high school graduates had taken 1,576 AP exams; in 2016, they had taken 8,168. In 2006, Hispanic/Latino high school graduates had received scores of 3 or higher on 848 exams; in 2016, they had scored 3 or higher on 3,793 AP exams.

Black students also saw gains. In 2006, black high school graduates had taken 1,027 AP exams; in 2016, they had taken 4,211. In 2006, black high school graduates had received scores of 3 or higher on 407 exams; in 2016, they had scored 3 or higher on 1,428 AP exams.

(Note: The College Board changed how it asks students about race and ethnicity during the 2015-16 school year.)

Low-income members of Massachusetts' class of 2016 also saw improvements in participation and success. In 2006, low-income high school graduates had taken 3,705 AP exams; in 2016, they had taken 19,621. In 2006, low-income high school graduates had received scores of 3 or higher on 1,684 exams; in 2016, they had scored 3 or higher on 9,090 AP exams.

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Last Updated: February 22, 2017
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