Nov 12, 2010 11:12 AM by Nichole Larkey
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana ranks next to last in the South and nationally when it comes to public high school seniors earning early college credit, a new report says.
Just over 4 percent of Louisiana students passed at least one Advanced Placement exam last year compared to 16 percent both regionally and nationally, according to a study by the Southern Regional Education Board, also known as the SREB.
That puts Louisiana just ahead of Mississippi in the 16-state region, as well as nationally.
The tests are known as AP exams.
Scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 5. Students typically have to score at least a 3 to earn college credit.
Some students enter college as sophomores or juniors because of the early start.
Educators say ample evidence links AP classes with success in college.
Top state educators said this week they are trying to improve Louisiana's public school involvement with AP classes and tests.
"I can say we have worked on this issue quite a bit over the last year or two," said Nancy Beben, director of curriculum standards for the state Department of Education.
Beben said plans to expand AP classes in the state, including more training for teachers to lead the classes, were a part of the state's bid for "Race To The Top" federal funds.
However, Louisiana failed to qualify for any of those dollars, which were touted as a way to reward states for education innovation.
"We haven't given up on those plans," Beben said. "But we need a source of funding."
While Louisiana struggles, the percentage of students in the region that passed at least one AP exam matched the national rate for the third year in a row, the report says.
The study says that 29 percent of high school seniors in SREB states took at least one AP exam last year.
In Louisiana just 10 percent of students did so, which is the lowest in the region.
The national average is 26 percent.