AP scores show gains in Arkansas’ education system

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 51 views 

Education continues to be our top priority in Arkansas, and we know that one of our biggest educational challenges is increasing the number of Arkansans who earn college degrees. This week, we received positive news reinforcing our long-term progress toward that goal.

In the last school year, the number of Arkansas students taking Advanced Placement, or AP, exams increased, as did their overall scores. This is an optimistic sign, because AP courses provide students with valuable preparation for the work they'll encounter in college.

Research shows that students who take an AP class have a higher grade point average in college than others and are more likely to graduate. Arkansas's number of completed AP exams with a score of 3 or higher increased by 6.4 percent, just shy of the 6.6 percent increase nationally. And the facts show that GPAs and graduation rates rise for students who take the exam and achieve a score of 3 or higher.

Part of the reason for these improved results is our state's education policy. Arkansas is the only state in the nation that pays for AP exams. This equalizes the opportunity for all of our students, as some excellent students would otherwise be unable to take the exams due to cost considerations. Arkansas law also requires every public high school to provide an AP course in math, English, social studies and science. All of these efforts have made Arkansas a national example for expanding access to Advanced Placement courses, as well as for increases in AP test scores.

Higher standards and ambitious goals produce positive results. Advanced Placement courses, while harder than normal high-school classes, can help knock down the financial and academic barriers many students face in pursuit of college degrees. These courses also prepare students for the competition they will face when they enter the workforce to pursue the careers they choose.

Each day, technology shrinks the world we live in a bit more. As our planet becomes more connected, employers can find new employees farther away from their base of operations, giving them access to a wider talent pool. For job seekers, this increases both the opportunities and the competition for openings. Cities, states and nations have a stronger motivation every year to cultivate a highly educated workforce attractive to employers who are more apt to locate near them.

Our ongoing improvement in Arkansas AP scores shows that more of our students are better preparing for college and the 21st-century economy. While this is laudable, it is not unique. Students in other states and nations are achieving similar progress, making it critical that we persist in striving to do even better.

Our students continue to show us that they are capable of great things as the next generation of Arkansas leaders. As long as we remain focused on prioritizing education and keeping those paths to achievement clear, we will see more of our young people realize their potential. Their success is the key to our state's success in the years to come.