Participation and Scores Continue to Rise

BALTIMORE – Maryland student success on the Advanced Placement (AP) test set a new record in 2017. At the same time, participation in the rigorous exams also increased to its highest level.

The percentage of Maryland seniors who earned a score of 3 or higher on one or more AP exams reached 31.2 percent in 2017, up from 30.3 in 2016. That placed second to Massachusetts, with 32.1 percent of its students earning a score of 3 or better.

A score of 3 or better is the threshold at which many higher education institutions award college credit to high school students on an AP assessment.

As test success improved, so had the percentage of students taking the exam. The percentage of Maryland graduates taking an AP test while in high school increased to 49.8 percent, behind only the District of Columbia (57.4 percent) and Florida (54.6 percent). In Massachusetts, 45.9 percent of graduates completed an AP test.

“Education is our top priority, and our administration is committed to ensuring that every Maryland student has access to the high-level instruction needed to compete in today’s 21st century workforce,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “I extend my sincere congratulations to our students and educators for continuing to lead the nation in Advanced Placement assessment achievement.”

Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, said the AP program offers one important path to a brighter future for students.

“Maryland schools continue their focus on making certain our graduates are ready for the college or career of their choice, and the Advanced Placement courses provide accelerated opportunities,” Dr. Salmon said. “We have improved access to AP while student scores are rising to new heights. That’s a great success formula.”

These new statistics are included in AP cohort data released today by the College Board for the class of 2017. Both participation and success improved throughout the nation, according to the report, with 37.7 percent of public high school graduates now taking at least one AP course and 22.8 percent receiving a 3 or better.

The College Board’s new analysis of the college-level assessment program provides a variety of information on efforts taking place in Maryland schools. For example:

  • The percentage of Maryland graduating seniors scoring a 3 or better on an AP test has increased from 22.4 percent in 2006 to 31.2 in 2017 — a leap of 8.6 percentage points.
  • Nearly half of all Maryland high school graduates take at least one AP exam while in high school, and that percentage has increased steadily over the past decade. In 2007, 34.9 percent of Maryland graduates had taken at least one AP exam during their high school career. By 2017, 49.8 percent of students graduated from high school having taken at least one of the high-level exams.
  • The number of Maryland high school graduates who scored a 3 or better on an AP exam increased from 12,814 in 2007 to 17,183 in 2017.
  • In Maryland, as in the rest of the nation, there are gaps in AP participation and success between student groups. While students eligible for Free and Reduced Price Meals account for 45 percent of the student population, only 21.2 percent of Maryland AP test-takers used an AP exam fee reduction.

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, which began in 1955, allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Students of different interests and backgrounds can choose from more than 30 courses to demonstrate their knowledge of rigorous academic curriculum. More information about the AP program is available at