More New Orleans students are taking rigorous coursework than ever before. Today, 90% of our city’s open-enrollment schools that serve 11th and 12th graders offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses.* AP courses are rigorous high school classes through which students engage with challenging concepts and can be eligible for college credit by earning qualifying scores on end-of-course exams. The percentage of students in our open-enrollment schools taking AP exams has nearly doubled since the 2011-12 school year.
In 2019, New Orleans students’ scores on those exams improved compared to 2018, and also outperformed the state. AP exams are scored on a five-point scale; students who earn scores of three or above are eligible for college credit at all Louisiana higher education institutions. This year, 40% of New Orleans students who took AP exams earned a three or higher, compared to 35% statewide. Our scores improved compared to the previous school year as well, when 36% of AP exam takers earned a qualifying score.
Some groups of students had particularly strong performance compared to the state. New Orleans’ Latinx students significantly outperformed the state average for Latinx students. A slightly greater percentage of Black students in New Orleans also earned a qualifying score compared to Black students statewide.
Some schools had notable performance as well. In 2018-19, the top four New Orleans public high schools for the percentage of students scoring a three or above were Benjamin Franklin High School, Lusher Charter School, Frederick A. Douglass High School (formerly KIPP Renaissance), and the New Orleans Military & Maritime Academy. And in each of these schools, at least 100 students took AP exams.
New Orleans public schools’ AP test-taking rates and scores mark real possibility. By earning college credit while still in high school, our students save valuable time and tuition dollars down the road. Across Louisiana, AP participation and scores have been growing — between 2012 and 2018, the number of students earning a three or higher grew a striking 167%.
In New Orleans, we are proud that our students are adding to these numbers and exceeding the state average. This year, our students remind us that not only are they ready, they are eager. They want to grow, excel, and show the world what they can do.
*During the 2018-19 school year, 22 open-enrollment public schools in New Orleans served high school students. 18 of these schools served at least through 11th grade. Students at 17 out of the 18 schools participated in AP exams. 16 of the 18 schools offered AP courses.