Jul 31, 2014 5:54 PM by AP
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's high school seniors are making increased strides on Advanced Placement exams that are used to earn college credit, according to data released Thursday.
The Department of Education said 4,542 public high school students who took an AP test in 2014 scored 3 or higher. That's the grade on a 1 to 5 scale that most colleges require for students to earn credit.
Less than one-third of the 15,114 Louisiana students who took the tests did well enough to get college credit. But it was an overall increase of 30 percent over the number of students who earned course credits in 2013.
Education Superintendent John White praised the results, saying Louisiana students have shown tremendous gains in AP performance since the state put a new emphasis on taking the courses and tests.
"Our successes in advanced placement as a state show that when we set the bar high for our kids, they can achieve at very high levels," White said.
He acknowledged Louisiana remains near the bottom nationally in the number of students who earn college credit through AP exams, but he said he expects the state to show continued improvement.
The College Board, which oversees the testing, will release state-by-state rankings in the fall, White said. Louisiana was 49th in the number of high school seniors who reached passing scores on the AP exams in 2013.
In recent years, Louisiana has focused on making the classes available to its public high school students. To help boost participation, the department subsidizes the exam cost for low-income students.
"These gains are proof of our students' hard work in their AP classes, and this effort will help better prepare them for college and a successful future," Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement.
The number of students taking an AP test more than doubled over the last two years, from 6,600 students in 2012 to more than 15,000 this year, according to the education department.