NEWS RELEASES 2011-12 :: FEBRUARY 8, 2012


A total of 18.4 percent of North Carolina's high school Class of 2011 earned a score of 3 or better on at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam, according to the annual Report to the Nation today released by The College Board. The report showed that 18.1 percent of the nation's students reached the same achievement

Over the past five years, North Carolina students have increased both their participation in the Advanced Placement program and also the percentage of graduates earning a score of 3 or better. A score of 3 or better on the AP 5-point score scale is considered high enough to earn college credit or placement at participating colleges and universities.

In 2001, North Carolina had 7,946 students who earned a score of 3 or greater on an AP exam, or 12.6 percent of the graduating class. In 2011, 15,496 North Carolina students earned a score of 3 or better.

Five North Carolina school districts – Buncombe County Schools, Cabarrus County Schools, Davidson County Schools, Davie County Schools and Mount Airy City Schools - were highlighted by The College Board as part of an honor roll of 367 public school districts. These districts simultaneously achieved increases in access to AP courses for a broader number of students while also maintaining or improving the rate of students earning scores of 3 or higher. Buncombe and Davie have received this special recognition for two consecutive years.

"I want to congratulate all North Carolina high school students who participate in the Advanced Placement program," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "Students are demonstrating to us that they are college-ready and are taking important steps to be successful after high school graduation. I am especially proud of Buncombe, Cabarrus, Davidson, Davie and Mount Airy school districts for their efforts to improve access for students and maintain high quality standards."

The percentage of students taking AP exams has continued to grow over the past five years nationally and in North Carolina. Approximately 30 percent of the state's high school seniors in 2011 had taken at least one of the exams.

Participation in the AP program is an important indicator of student readiness for college-level work. The College Board offers AP exams in more than 30 courses across a variety of subject areas. In North Carolina, the most popular AP courses and exams are:  US History, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Psychology, Environmental Science, Calculus AB, Statistics, Biology, US Government and Politics and Calculus BC. Students receive scores on the standardized AP exams that range from 1 to 5, with a score of 3-5 considered eligible for college placement or credit at participating colleges and universities. Students, in most cases, pay the cost of AP exams themselves and exams are given at students' high schools in May on dates set by The College Board.

The NCDPI continues to work with local school districts to strengthen AP programs and access by:

  • providing professional development to better prepare teachers to facilitate AP courses;
  • applying for the AP Test Fee Reduction Grant, which eliminates the cost of testing for low-income students (NC received a $500,000 grant last year);
  • working with districts to better identify students who may have the potential to be successful in AP courses; and
  • increasing access to AP courses through the North Carolina Virtual Public School.

To view the full AP report for North Carolina and the nation, please go to

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.