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MADISON — Preliminary data from the Advanced Placement (AP) program showed an increase in the number of state students participating in the program and solid overall results. The AP information comes with state and national SAT scores, where Wisconsin’s 2014 graduates posted strong results, outpacing students in the national cohort by more than 90 points on the college admissions exams.
Wisconsin had 2,522 public and private school graduates take the SAT during high school, about 4 percent of the state’s graduating class of 2014. They had mean scores of 596 for critical reading, 608 for mathematics, and 578 for writing. These are the highest Wisconsin’s mean scores have been over five years. The College Board’s College and Career Readiness benchmark score for each of the tests is 500; 79 percent of Wisconsin’s graduates earned the overall benchmark score of 1,500, indicating a 65 percent probability of obtaining a first-year grade point average of B- or higher at a four-year college or university. Nationally, mean scores were 497 for critical reading, 513 for mathematics, and 487 for writing.
“As has been the trend, Wisconsin’s SAT test-takers have overall results that anyone can be proud of,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.
Most of the state’s graduates, 73 percent, take the ACT college admissions exam. For 2014 graduates, the statewide average composite score was 22.2, placing Wisconsin second in the nation among ACT-taking states. In spring, all Wisconsin public high school juniors will take the ACT as part of the state’s testing program.
“I am proud of our 2014 graduates and their performance on college admissions tests,” Evers said. “I am equally proud of students who took AP exams. The preliminary results show improvements from last year even as AP continues to grow across the state.”
Overall, Wisconsin had 38,431 students in grades 11 and 12 who took an AP exam in May 2014. Those public and private school students took 64,398 exams and earned a score of three or higher on 48,864 exams (68.1 percent). Students earning scores of three or higher on an exam, generally qualify for credit or advanced standing at most colleges and universities. Wisconsin results across most racial and ethnic student groups showed improvement from 2013.
Participation in AP testing in Wisconsin was up 4.3 percent from the prior year, but showed a smaller increase than the previous four years. Additionally, there were strong increases in participation across racial and ethnic student groups, except among African American students where participation decreased. Wisconsin students who identified themselves as being from a traditionally underrepresented racial or ethnic group made up 13.1 percent of students taking AP exams, about the same percentage as last year, and had solid increases in the percentage of AP exams scored at three or higher. Disparities in performance by students of color are apparent.
“We must confront achievement gaps,” Evers said. “My Promoting Excellence for All Task Force pulled together a broad cross-section of strategies to start moving the needle on the achievement gap. Educators have a big role to play, but will need the help of leaders, the business community, parents, and citizens to see this through.”