The number of Kentucky public high school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) examinations and scoring at high levels continues to rise, according to data released this week by the College Board.

Since 2008, the number of Kentucky public high school students taking AP examinations has risen by nearly 12,000. The number of tests scored at 3, 4 or 5 has increased by about 10,000.

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program enables students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Based on their performance on rigorous AP exams, students can earn credit for college.

“These increases can be attributed to an enhanced focus on college and career readiness in Kentucky, exemplified by the efforts of AdvanceKentucky to expand the numbers of students who participate in AP courses and exams,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Schools in AdvanceKentucky’s cohorts contributed large percentages of qualifying scores, particularly among minority students.”

In 2008, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) formed a partnership with the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) to expand access to, preparation for and participation in academically rigorous coursework such as AP classes. The AdvanceKentucky initiative is the result of this partnership. For more details on AdvanceKentucky, please visit

The Advanced Placement performance of ethnic groups in Kentucky’s public schools showed increases from 2008 to 2012. Since 2008, the number of non-white public school students taking one or more AP exams has more than doubled. Since 2008, the number of AP test scores of 3, 4 or 5 has risen for students in all ethnic groups.

Senate Bill 74, passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2002, required the development of a core AP curriculum and the expansion of access to AP courses. In November 2005, the National Governors Association awarded grants of $500,000 each to Kentucky and five other states to improve the access to and success in AP courses.

Kentucky has used its award to increase student and teacher preparation for AP and to develop AP expansion. Students eligible for free and reduced-price school meals may qualify for waivers of the fees to take the AP exams, if funding continues.

The College Board also released data on SAT and PSAT/NMSQT scores. The scores of Kentucky public high school students who took the SAT I in 2012 rose slightly for all subjects, compared to 2011’s results. At the same time, however, the number of students taking the test decreased by about 3.8 percent from 2011 to 2012. Therefore, these data are difficult to interpret. A very small percentage of Kentucky public school students take the SAT I — only 4 percent of graduating public school seniors participated in the test in 2011. The mean scores of Kentucky public high school sophomores and juniors who took the

Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) showed slight increases in at the sophomore and junior levels. The PSAT/NMSQT is scored on a scale of 0 to 80.