Wisconsin high school student participation and achievement on AP tests is on the rise, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The Wisconsin graduating class of 2015 has continued a trend of increased AP program participation over a 10 year period. During that time, the percentage of high school seniors taking AP tests increased by 10.9 points, according to data from a College Board report.

The class of 2015 also scored above the national average for students receiving a passing grade of three on the exam. The national average is 24.7 percent, while 24.7 percent of Wisconsin students passed AP exams with a score of more than three.

High school students who take AP courses can receive college credit or course exemptions if they receive a score of at least three out of five on College Board administered exams, according to a DPI statement.

These AP courses also provide large savings to Wisconsin families, according to DPI’s statement. 

Scoring high on AP exams can be beneficial to students, said Noel Radomski, director and associate researcher at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education.

High scores on AP tests have been shown to correlate with better college performance, and students who take enough courses could enter college as a second semester freshman or even first semester sophomore, saving themselves money and time, Radomski said.

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While these classes prepare students for the rigor of college, Radomski said their increase has led to a growing expectation from colleges and universities for students to have taken AP courses.

This increased focus by colleges on the AP program could leave many students behind, Radomski said. 

“[School districts in rural and low-income areas] may not offer AP courses, or if they do, [they] may have an AP course with an inexperienced teacher,” Radomski said. “They may have an AP course, but [without] any tutoring before you take your test.”

This lack of support for AP in some areas contributes to a growing disparity in college acceptances between students from low-income and high-income areas, Radomski said.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers said in a statement that he is proud of Wisconsin’s continued support of the AP system.

“We’re continuing to see growth in participation and achievement, which is a good place to be,” Evers said in the statement