Students study for an upcoming AP exam in an AP physics class at Duluth High School. More Georgia students are taking and earning top scores on Advanced Placement exams, according to state data released today. The exams allow students to earn college credit in high school and are an indicator of how well a student will perform in college.

Georgia DOE: Class of 2018 posts 16th highest AP pass rate in nation

The College Board released data this morning showing Georgia’s public school class of 2018 has the 16th-highest Advanced Placement pass rate in the nation.

AP courses are designed to provide high schoolers with college-level challenges, although there is debate over whether all the classes actually do that. But a proven benefit: Passing the voluntary, end-of-course exam in an AP class can earn a student credit for a college class, allowing completion of a degree in less time and with less money.  While AP classes are typically taken by juniors and seniors, some schools now allow younger students to take them.

I am a fan for several reasons, one being the ability to graduate college early. My oldest daughter, with a combination of qualifying AP tests scores and credits earned through CLEP exams, graduated the University of Georgia a year early and then was able to apply some of her college funds to graduate school. My son graduated a private college a semester early, which saved us enough money to pay for a new roof. (Appreciate that this morning with fierce rain in Decatur.) 

Many people complain the classes turn into cram sessions for the famously difficult AP tests, but all four of my kids agree some of their best discussions occurred within AP classes, where students are typically motivated to do the readings and know the material.

Here is the statement from Georgia DOE on the 2018 performance of students:

In Georgia, 23.2 percent of public school students in the class of 2018 earned a 3 or higher on an AP exam – compared to 23 percent of the class of 2017, and 22.4 percent of the class of 2016. Overall, 41.3 percent of Georgia’s public-school class of 2018 took an AP exam while in high school. This is the 13th-highest AP participation rate in the nation.

“I’m incredibly proud of Georgia’s public-school teachers and students, who are showing the nation what we’ve long known: Georgia is a state that’s on the move in education,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “When I look at these numbers, I’m pleased to see them increasing but more than that, I’m pleased when I think about the thousands of individual student stories these numbers represent. We’re talking about tens of thousands of kids entering the next phase of their life after high school with solid preparation and a head start on the kinds of coursework they’ll encounter in college. That is great news for the future of our state.”

Of Georgia’s class of 2018, 31.1 percent of test-takers used an AP exam fee reduction, which states look to as a marker of equitable participation for low-income students. Eligibility for this fee reduction is based on the eligibility threshold for free and reduced-price lunch. Nationally, 30.8 percent of AP test-takers of the class of 2018 used an exam fee reduction.

Five Georgia school districts were also named to the College Board’s 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll, which recognizes districts that have increased access to AP for underrepresented students while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher. 

Those districts are: Bremen City Schools; Buford City Schools; Clarke County Schools; Forsyth County Schools; and Marietta City Schools.

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.