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Rhode Island Makes Great Strides in AP Participation and Achievement

RI has the largest 10-year growth in the percentage of high school graduates taking an AP; had the largest improvement in AP pass rates of any State over the past 10 and 5 years


PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and the College Board today announced that Rhode Island has the largest 10-year growth in the percentage of public high school graduates taking an AP Exam during high school. AP courses, managed by the College Board, are college-level classes that students can take in high school. Students who earn a score of 3 or higher (out of 5) on an AP Exam can earn college credits at most colleges. Rhode Island is also above the national average for the percentage of students in the Class of 2021 scoring a 3 or higher.

Rhode Island had the largest improvement in AP pass rates of any state over the past 10 and 5 years. Rhode Island’s graduating class of 2021 passed at least one AP exam at almost double that of the class of 2011. (22.7% of the class of 2021 passed versus 11.9% for the class of 2011). This 10-year growth of 10.8 percentage points is more than double the national average growth of 5.3 percentage points (only the District of Columbia showed slightly higher pass rates).

"We are very proud of our students and teachers for taking and passing the AP exams at record rates,” said Governor Dan McKee. “My administration has worked hard to make this possible by increasing opportunities for students in every district. We are going to keep working hard to increase the rate of AP exam passage in Rhode Island.”

"Every student deserves the opportunity to take an advanced class that challenges them and expands their horizons,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Council Chair Patti DiCenso. “We are committed to ensuring every student, regardless of where they live or who their parents are, has that opportunity. Congratulations to the many students who have succeeded on their AP exams over the last decade, and to all of the educators who worked hard to help them get there.”

“This is an excellent example of how Rhode Island can lead the nation when we chart a course and stick with it. Our teachers, principals, and instructional leaders should be proud of the impact they have made on our high schools over the last decade,” said Commissioner Infante-Green. “Despite the impacts of COVID-19, the work is continuing to pay off and our students are finding even greater success year-over-year.”

These results are exceptionally promising and build on a strong upward trajectory for Rhode Island. Just last year, Rhode Island legislators passed Bill S 0209 providing RIDE with funding for AP teacher professional development and AP funding waivers. This funding ensures that all low-income students are able to take AP exams at no cost to themselves, their families, or their local education agencies.

Rhode Island is committed to graduating students with the skills for college and career success. The dramatic increase in both access and the performance of our students coincides with our decision to reward schools and measure postsecondary outcomes like Advanced Placement scores, dual enrollment courses, and CTE through the diploma plus measure in school accountability. Diploma Plus recognizes high schools for the percentage of students who graduate with a diploma plus college credit or industry-recognized credentials.

“Rhode Island’s educators and policymakers have done something utterly remarkable,” said Trevor Packer, head of the AP Program. “Rhode Island has achieved greater gains in access to AP courses, while also achieving a larger increase in high AP exam scores, than any other state over this past decade.”

These improvements in AP course taking are particularly promising, in light of research that shows that such courses have increased Rhode Island students’ rates of graduating from high school, enrolling in college, and bypassing college remediation. The study, which was commissioned by the US Department of Education’s Institute for Educational Sciences, showed that public high school students who participate in at least one dual enrollment class, concurrent enrollment class, or AP class are 21% more likely to graduate from high school on time, 30% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education within one year of graduating, and are statistically significantly more likely to avoid developmental, remedial coursework at the three public colleges in Rhode Island.

Early college opportunities in Rhode Island are supported by the PrepareRI dual enrollment fund, the All Course Network, CS4RI, TwoCodes, and PrepareRI, as well as being supported by LEA-specific policies.

To learn more about the State’s early college opportunities please visit:
www.ride.ri.gov/StudentsFamilies/EducationPrograms/EarlyCollegeOpportunities