Massachusetts students lead nation in Advanced Placement success for a second year in a row

MALDEN, Mass. — For the second year in a row, Massachusetts had the highest percentage of graduating high school seniors scoring a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam, according to the College Board.

The board released new data Friday that showed approximately 43% of students who graduated from Massachusetts public schools in 2021 took at least one AP exam while in high school and 31%, 21,000 students, of the graduates scored a 3 or higher.

A score of 3 or above on an AP exam shows a student’s capability to complete work for an introductory college-level course in that subject area, according to the college board.

Over the course of a few years, Massachusetts’s graduating classes have led the nation in AP success including 2021, 2020, 2018, and 2016.

“These are impressive results and demonstrate the strength of the schools, students and teachers in Massachusetts who tackle these challenging courses every year,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We hope that this success will inspire other students and encourage enrollment in AP coursework and early college courses.”

More than 7,500 low-income members of the Class of 2021 took at least one AP exam in high school. That number is the highest it has been during the past 10 years, said the board.

DESE expanded the number of Massachusetts high schools that offer one or more AP courses in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Through the STEM AP Access Expansion Opportunity, students are given the chance to take AP courses online for free, is funded by a five-year, $9 million grant that DESE received from the U.S. Department of Education in 2020.

“It’s wonderful to see students’ and teachers’ commitment to this challenging coursework,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “I hope schools will continue to find ways to add engaging, rigorous classes that prepare students for life after high school.”