More Kentucky students are taking the rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) tests and scoring higher according to data released from the College Board.

In the past five years, the number of Kentucky public high school students taking AP examinations is up 35 percent and the number of tests with a qualifying score of 3, 4 or 5 has increased by 40 percent. In 2011, about 23,500 students took an AP test, with just over 17,300 of them scoring a 3 or higher. By 2015, more than 31,600 students were taking an AP exam, with about 24,300 of them earning a score of 3 or higher.

The Advanced Placement program gives high school students the opportunity for college credit in more than 30 subjects — ranging from high-level math and science to fine arts — if they score well on a standardized end-of-course exam. Although it varies from school to school, most colleges require a minimum qualifying score of 3 on an AP exam to earn college credit for the course.

“A lot of Kentucky’s success in Advanced Placement can be attributed to the AdvanceKentucky initiative,” said Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown. “The state has made an investment in AdvanceKentucky and it is paying off based on the number of students who are not only taking higher level coursework, but also are succeeding on AP exams.”

AdvanceKentucky is a statewide math-science initiative designed to expand access to, and participation and success in, academically rigorous coursework such as AP classes. A total of 101 Kentucky public high schools in 74 districts have participated since its inception in 2008. More than 4,500 AP and Pre-AP math, science and English teachers statewide have taken advantage of AdvanceKentucky’s training programs.

Significantly more students who attend AdvanceKentucky schools earn qualifying scores on AP exams compared to students in other schools. Also, independent longitudinal research shows that these students earn significantly higher ACT scores, go to college at higher rates, enroll in fewer remedial classes, earn higher GPAs in college, and graduate in a timelier manner.

The AP participation and performance of various student groups in Kentucky’s public high schools likewise has increased significantly under AdvanceKentucky’s mission to engage many more students traditionally underrepresented in AP, including minority and low-income students. For African-American students, the participation rate has increased from 1,278 students taking one or more AP exams in 2011 to 1,748 students in 2015. The number of Hispanic students taking an AP exam increased from 568 in 2011 to 1,117 in 2015.

Longitudinal research demonstrates significantly more minority and low income students who attend AdvanceKentucky schools go to college and enroll in far fewer remedial courses compared to graduates from other public schools. They are closing the gap with performance patterns very similar to their white colleagues.

AdvanceKentucky is an initiative of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education, and is the state’s affiliate with the National Math and Science Initiative.