A student solves math problems in his binder during class....

A student solves math problems in his binder during class. (May 1, 2013) Credit: Heather Walsh

New York placed seventh nationally in the percentage of public high school students succeeding on Advanced Placement exams in 2013, moving one step up compared with 2012, according to a College Board report released Tuesday.

Maryland was at the top, with 29.6 percent of students there who took the exams scoring a 3 or better, followed by Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts, Florida and California. The top score on the tests is 5.

New York came in at 25.4 percent, above the 23.5 percent of 2012, when the state ranked eighth nationwide, the Manhattan-based College Board said.

Overall in New York, more high school students are succeeding on the exams than in 2003, with 44,909 scoring a 3 or better in 2013 compared with 29,479 in 2003 -- an increase of more than 50 percent.

The Long Beach public schools have increased their college-ready course offerings in recent years, administering 800 exams in either Advanced Placement, Geneva-based International Baccalaureate or other college-level work. In 2008-09, the district gave more than 300 such exams, superintendent David Weiss said.

The district has 550 individual students taking at least one AP, IB or college-level course this year compared with 300 in the 2008-09 school year, when overall enrollment in the district was greater.

"One of the things that people throw around is the term 'college readiness.' It is used with a lot of abandon these days," Weiss said. "In reality, if students can sit for a course that is developed by a college or used by many colleges for the possibility of advanced standing, those students are more likely to be successful when they reach college."

New York's trends showed a nearly 5,500-student increase in the number of students from low-income households succeeding on the exam in the past decade -- from 3,635 in 2003 to 9,133 in 2013. More than twice the number of African-American and Hispanic students in New York succeeded on an AP exam in 2013 compared with a decade earlier. The number of Asian public high school students in New York earning more than a 3 on an AP test nearly doubled during that time.

Nationally, over the last decade, the number of students who graduate from high school having taken rigorous AP courses has almost doubled, and the number of low-income students taking AP courses has more than quadrupled, the report said.

College Board officials said they hope participation continues to grow. "At the heart of the College Board's mission is a commitment to ensuring that students have access to the opportunities they have earned," president David Coleman said. "While great strides have been made over the last decade to expand access to AP, we remain as committed as ever to ensuring that every student with the potential to succeed in an AP course has the opportunity to take one."

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