Arizona below national average in AP test scores

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- The number of Arizona high school students scoring well enough on Advanced Placement exams to be able to earn college credit almost has doubled over the last decade but the results are still below the national average, according to a report released Tuesday by the College Board.

The report showed that nearly 8,800 Arizona students, or 14.4 percent, earned a score of 3 or higher in 2013. In 2003, 7.4 percent did so. Advanced Placement exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with colleges and universities typically giving college credit for a 3 or higher.

"We have seen some very positive growth in our numbers," said Peter Laing, senior director of the Advanced Placement program at the Arizona Department of Education. "We're encouraged that we have more students earning a 3 or higher that even took the AP exam 10 years ago."

Arizona's figures still come in below the national average of 20 percent, but the report notes that the state has improved in the number of minorities taking the exams and better positioning themselves for college.

Arizona had nearly 61,000 high school graduates in 2013, and one-fourth took an AP exam.

"That shows that our students are highly capable and when given the opportunity, they can rise to the challenge and perform at the highest level," Laing said. "It's a key strategy to help ensure our students are college-ready and career-ready."

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