Utah Students Taking More AP Tests, Scoring Higher

Sep 26, 2013

More public school students in Utah are taking advanced placement exams; and they did better on those tests this year than last. According to the latest data from the College Board, the organization that develops and administers standardized tests, Utah participation rates increased about 8 percent in the 2012, 2013 school year.  And there was a 7 percent increase in the number of exams with scores of 3, 4, or 5. Those scores translate to college credit for some colleges and universities.

Mark Peterson is a spokesperson for the Utah State Office of Education. He speculates the rise in participation could be tied to the state’s decision to pay for all students to take the ACT test this school year, which is a college readiness assessment.

“And as more kids are looking at that college option, they’re also looking at the expense," Peterson says. "So it’s entirely possible that as they look at the expense and as they look at their preparation for college that they start looking at AP as a way to knock some of those college credits off for a lot less money than being in college.”

Minority students are taking up to 29 percent more AP exams compared to the previous year. And they’re achieving up to 23.3 percent more scores of 3, 4, or 5 on those tests.

 “So an increase in 3 to 5 scores, while we’ve increased the number of exams taken and the number of test takers, speaks very well of the AP preparation and of the increasing rigor in Utah’s public schools," Peterson says.

Puerto Rican students were the only group that showed decreases in both test participation and scores.

In addition to AP scores, the College Board reported Utah’s participation in the SAT is down, but scores are up. Peterson says many colleges and universities are becoming less concerned with scores from that exam.