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Class of 2017 Data Overview

With each graduating class, more students are participating and succeeding in AP.

Over the past 10 years, there has been a 70% increase in the number of U.S. public high school graduates who’ve taken an AP Exam sometime in high school, as well as a 68% increase in the number of graduates who’ve scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam.

AP Participation

  • In the last decade, the number of U.S. public high school graduates who took at least one AP Exam increased from 691,437 or 23.9% of the class of 2007 to 1,174,554 or 37.7% of the class of 2017.
  • In the class of 2017 1.17 million students took more than 3.98 million AP Exams in public high schools nationwide, up from 1.14 million students in the class of 2016.

AP Performance

  • During the same period, the number of U.S. public high school graduates who scored a 3 or higher on an AP Exam rose from 423,067 or 14.6% of the class of 2007 to 711,518 or 22.8% of the class of 2017.

Data for the class of 2017 also show that while the performance gap has improved for students of most race and ethnicity groups, including Hispanic/Latino students, Black/African-American students remain underrepresented. The graph below compares the race/ethnicity demographic percentage breakdown of the class of 2017 with the race/ethnicity demographic percentage breakdown of AP takers who scored 3 or higher in the class of 2017. For example, Hispanic/Latino students comprise 22.4% of students from the class of 2017, and 22.9% of all AP exam takers who scored a 3 or higher in the class of 2017.

Demographics of the class of 2017 and AP students scoring 3 or higher in the class of 2017

In 2016, the race/ethnicity question changed to align with the seven categories established by the U.S. Department of Education guidelines. For more information, please visit 2015-16 Changes to the Collection and Reporting of Student Race and Ethnicity Data. The Class of 2017 percentages are sourced from Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) which continue to make projections by five major racial/ethnic categories, therefore Two or More Races and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander projections are not provided separately but rather dispersed into the five existing racial/ethnic categories. As a result, some caution should be exercised in comparing the percent of the AP population scoring 3 or higher and the Class of 2017 because the race/ethnicity definitions, while very similar, are not precisely the same.

Research shows that underrepresented minority students who take at least one AP Exam are more likely to succeed in college.

Compared to students with similar background and ability who don’t take an AP Exam, research shows that underrepresented minority students:

Underrepresented minorities who come from low-income backgrounds and take at least one AP Exam:

Underrepresented minority and low-income students who earn a 3 or higher on an AP STEM Exam:

When looking at the 10-year trend, just as the overall number of students succeeding on AP Exams has increased, so has the number of underrepresented minority (American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander) students succeeding on AP Exams. The number of underrepresented minority students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam almost tripled—making it the fastest growing population of students earning scores of 3 or higher.

The College Board’s collection and reporting of race and ethnicity was updated in 2016 to align with U.S. Department of Education guidelines for the collection and reporting of race and ethnicity data. Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander and Two or More Races are possible race/ethnicity classifications beginning with the 2016 cohort. Due to the change in the race/ethnicity question, caution should be exercised in year-over-year comparisons to data before and after the 2016 cohort. For more information, see 2015-16 Changes to the Collection and Reporting of Student Race and Ethnicity Data.

Rankings by State

Individual states have made impressive gains in AP participation and performance over the years—providing their students with greater access to and support for AP.

  • 2017 marked the second year in a row that Massachusetts led the nation in AP performance, with 32.1% of its public high school graduates earning a 3 or higher on an AP Exam. This is a 12.9 percentage-point increase from 2007 to 2017 for Massachusetts, making it the state with the largest 10-year increase in AP performance.

    • Several factors in Massachusetts contribute to continued AP success. For years Massachusetts districts have partnered with Mass Insight Education, a nonprofit that advocates for higher standards for education in the state, to increase access and performance in AP courses. This ranking is evidence of the daily work of thousands of dedicated AP students, teachers, and educators in the state.

  • Nevada had both the largest 5-year increase and 3-year increase in the percentage of public high school graduates earning a 3 or higher on an AP Exam.

  • Rhode Island had sustained growth over the past decade and is the only state with a top 5 increase in 1, 3, 5 and 10-year growth in the percentage of public high school graduates earning a 3 or higher on an AP Exam.

Percentage of the Class of 2017 Scoring a 3 or Higher on an AP Exam During High School, by State

What do the data show?

22.8% of U.S. public high school graduates scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school.

32.1% of the public high school graduates in Massachusetts scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam, leading the nation.

Figure 1 shows the percentage of all U.S. public high school students in the class of 2017 who scored 3 or higher on an AP Exam during high school, by state. These data show the extent of student participation and success in AP.

1-Year, 3-Year, 5-Year, and 10-Year Change in the Percentage of Graduates Earning a 3 or Higher on an AP Exam During High School, by State, Ranked by the 10-Year Percentage Point Change

What do the data show?

Massachusetts had a 12.9-point increase over 10 years in the percentage of public high school graduates earning a 3 or higher on an AP Exam, the highest in the nation.

8.2-point increase since 2007 in the percentage of U.S. public high school graduates scoring 3 or higher on an AP Exam.

0.9-point increase since 2016 in the percentage of U.S. public high school graduates scoring 3 or higher on an AP Exam.

Performance Change
  1-year 3-year 5-year 10-year
Massachusetts 1.1 4.1 7.2 12.9
Florida 1.4 4.1 5.0 12.4
Connecticut 0.9 2.1 6.0 12.1
Rhode Island 2.2 4.4 7.5 12.1
Illinois 1.3 4.1 7.4 11.8
New Jersey 1.5 3.7 6.4 11.1
Nevada 2.2 6.6 8.2 10.5
California 1.8 5.0 7.5 10.1
Wisconsin 0.7 2.5 5.4 9.8
District of Columbia 3.0 4.9 6.7 9.7
Indiana 1.0 2.2 4.4 9.4
Kentucky 0.6 1.9 4.1 9.3
Minnesota 0.0 1.2 3.1 9.2
Michigan 0.7 1.9 4.4 9.1
Maryland 0.9 0.9 3.5 8.9
Colorado 0.6 2.6 4.6 8.6
Washington 0.3 2.4 3.6 8.6
United States 0.9 2.7 4.6 8.2
Arkansas 0.7 1.8 2.8 8.1
Georgia 0.6 2.7 3.4 8.1
Pennsylvania 0.8 2.7 4.9 7.8
Hawaii -0.2 2.7 4.7 7.5
Alabama 0.8 2.6 4.2 7.4
Texas 1.3 3.1 4.8 7.1
Ohio 0.5 1.4 4.2 6.9
Virginia 0.2 0.8 2.7 6.9
Arizona 0.8 2.5 3.3 6.8
New York 0.6 2.5 4.4 6.8
Oregon 0.4 2.7 3.3 6.6
South Carolina 1.1 2.5 4.8 6.2
Delaware 1.0 2.3 4.5 6.1
Missouri 0.8 2.2 3.1 6.1
Nebraska 1.1 2.0 3.3 6.1
New Hampshire 0.1 2.0 3.4 6.0
Louisiana 0.7 2.5 4.3 5.8
Vermont 0.5 -0.8 1.9 5.7
Iowa 0.2 1.3 2.7 5.5
Maine 0.1 0.0 1.0 4.5
West Virginia 0.2 1.4 1.8 4.5
Tennessee 0.4 2.0 3.0 4.3
Utah 0.7 0.8 1.6 4.2
North Carolina 0.4 2.8 3.4 4.1
Wyoming -0.1 1.5 2.2 3.5
Alaska -1.0 2.0 2.3 3.1
Mississippi 0.6 1.7 2.1 3.0
Idaho 0.6 1.0 0.9 2.9
Kansas -0.3 0.0 0.5 2.9
North Dakota 0.9 1.7 2.5 2.9
South Dakota -0.5 -0.9 0.1 2.9
Montana 0.2 -0.3 0.6 2.8
Oklahoma -0.1 0.4 0.8 2.8
New Mexico 0.3 1.3 2.2 2.4

Figures 2a and 2b track the progress states have made over 1, 3, 5, and 10 years toward ensuring their students have the opportunity and preparation to succeed in AP.

Percentage of the Classes of 2007, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017 Scoring a 3 or Higher on an AP Exam During High School, by State, Ranked by the 10-Year Percentage Point Change Appearing in Figure 2a

What do the data show?

Massachusetts had the highest percentage of public high school graduates score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam in 2016 and 2017.

Maryland had the highest percentage of public high school graduates score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam in 2007, 2012, and 2014.

Performance Trend
  2007 2012 2014 2016 2017
Massachusetts 19.2 24.9 28.0 31.0 32.1
Florida 18.4 25.8 26.7 29.4 30.8
Connecticut 18.9 25.0 28.9 30.1 31.0
Rhode Island 8.7 13.3 16.4 18.6 20.8
Illinois 14.5 18.9 22.2 25.0 26.3
New Jersey 16.9 21.6 24.3 26.5 28.0
Nevada 14.2 16.5 18.1 22.5 24.7
California 20.2 22.8 25.3 28.5 30.3
Wisconsin 15.7 20.1 23.0 24.8 25.5
District of Columbia 7.1 10.1 11.9 13.8 16.8
Indiana 9.7 14.7 16.9 18.1 19.1
Kentucky 8.9 14.1 16.3 17.6 18.2
Minnesota 13.1 19.2 21.1 22.3 22.3
Michigan 11.5 16.2 18.7 19.9 20.6
Maryland 22.3 27.7 30.3 30.3 31.2
Colorado 18.8 22.8 24.8 26.8 27.4
Washington 14.3 19.3 20.5 22.6 22.9
United States 14.6 18.2 20.1 21.9 22.8
Arkansas 9.6 14.9 15.9 17.0 17.7
Georgia 14.9 19.6 20.3 22.4 23.0
Pennsylvania 11.2 14.1 16.3 18.2 19.0
Hawaii 7.8 10.6 12.6 15.5 15.3
Alabama 6.2 9.4 11.0 12.8 13.6
Texas 14.5 16.8 18.5 20.3 21.6
Ohio 10.5 13.2 16.0 16.9 17.4
Virginia 21.6 25.8 27.7 28.3 28.5
Arizona 9.6 13.1 13.9 15.6 16.4
New York 21.0 23.4 25.3 27.2 27.8
Oregon 11.3 14.6 15.2 17.5 17.9
South Carolina 13.6 15.0 17.3 18.7 19.8
Delaware 13.6 15.2 17.4 18.7 19.7
Missouri 6.1 9.1 10.0 11.4 12.2
Nebraska 5.6 8.4 9.7 10.6 11.7
New Hampshire 14.2 16.8 18.2 20.1 20.2
Louisiana 2.7 4.2 6.0 7.8 8.5
Vermont 19.2 23.0 25.7 24.4 24.9
Iowa 7.7 10.5 11.9 13.0 13.2
Maine 15.2 18.7 19.7 19.6 19.7
West Virginia 6.6 9.3 9.7 10.9 11.1
Tennessee 8.0 9.3 10.3 11.9 12.3
Utah 20.8 23.4 24.2 24.3 25.0
North Carolina 16.9 17.6 18.2 20.6 21.0
Wyoming 8.1 9.4 10.1 11.7 11.6
Alaska 12.4 13.2 13.5 16.5 15.5
Mississippi 3.5 4.4 4.8 5.9 6.5
Idaho 9.8 11.8 11.7 12.1 12.7
Kansas 7.5 9.9 10.4 10.7 10.4
North Dakota 7.6 8.0 8.8 9.6 10.5
South Dakota 9.5 12.3 13.3 12.9 12.4
Montana 10.2 12.4 13.3 12.8 13.0
Oklahoma 8.9 10.9 11.3 11.8 11.7
New Mexico 10.2 10.4 11.3 12.3 12.6

Figures 2a and 2b track the progress states have made over 1, 3, 5, and 10 years toward ensuring their students have the opportunity and preparation to succeed in AP.

The data on this page represent U.S. public school students only. Class of 2017 enrollment data are sourced from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) projection of high school graduates released in December 2016.