SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today that Illinois ranks 5th in the nation and tops all Midwestern states for the largest 10-year increase in the percentage of public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam. Additionally, the number of Hispanic/Latino graduates scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam during high school has more than tripled over the past 10 years. The number of Black graduates scoring a 3 or higher has more than doubled.
Twenty-nine percent of graduates in the Class of 2020 earned a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam during high school, an increase of 12.5 percentage points from the Class of 2010 – a bigger jump than all but four other states. The new data also show that Gov. JB Pritzker’s investments in AP Exam fee waivers for low-income students have led to a historic number of low-income scoring a 3 or higher on AP Exams. Earning a 3 or higher guarantees students college credit at any Illinois public college or university, allowing them to save time and money toward obtaining a degree.
“There are a lot of ways we in state government can support our communities – but I believe firmly that the best investment we can make for the future of our state is in our bright and ambitious young people,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “That means making college more affordable – and while my administration is tackling that in many ways, one of the most successful is to help our students earn college credit before they even graduate high school, potentially savings thousands of dollars in tuition down the road. I’m proud that my administration invested significantly in reducing the cost of AP test fees for low-income students and thrilled to see that investment already paying off for our young people.”
“We are seeing so much growth in AP because our focus is equity,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Our investments in AP are driven by equity. We are breaking down barriers for underrepresented students, and as a result, our outcomes as a state are improving as a whole. Any student who is ready for a challenge and willing to put in the work can be an AP student. This experience is so valuable because it gives students the opportunity to graduate having already experienced college-level rigor and having already earned college credit.”
Illinois is continuing to lead the nation in improving AP equity. Illinois school districts are the first in the nation to pilot a professional learning series with the College Board to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent students from taking AP courses and persisting to the AP Exam. The professional learning will strengthen underrepresented students’ access to and success in AP.
The College Board also awarded 34 Illinois high schools – nearly double the number last year – with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for expanding young women's access to AP computer science courses. Awardees have either reached 50% or higher female examinee representation in either or both of the two AP computer science courses or had a percentage of the female examinees meet or exceed that of the school's female population.