For Immediate Release                                                                                                               
February 4, 2009

Number of students taking AP exams in Illinois going up; Increasing number of minority students meeting benchmark for college success

Chicago’s Whitney Young High School top in nation for African American students scoring 3 or higher on the AP English Language Exam

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education today announced the number of Illinois students taking and passing AP exams increased in 2008. Illinois also ranked in the upper half of the nation for number of high school seniors – 15.2 percent – who scored 3 or higher on an AP exam in 2008 according to the 5th Annual AP Report to the Nation. In addition, participation among all categories – by gender, ethnicity and class – increased in Illinois.

“We know that a rigorous academic curriculum builds the foundation both for success in the classroom and following graduation,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We’re pleased to see our AP results improve and expect to see the trend continue as we review and revise our Illinois Learning Standards and continue our work with the American Diploma Project.’’

Illinois ranked 18th in the nation for having the greatest percent of seniors posting a 3 or higher which studies have shown is predictive of college success and college graduation. The percentage of Illinois students reaching that benchmark has increased since 2003 when 13 percent of students scored a 3 or higher.

Illinois joined the American Diploma Project last October to better prepare students for college and the workforce. Illinois will be among the first states to not only use national benchmarks, but also look at what other countries require of their students. Once the 18-24-month process is completed, it is expected that Illinois Learning Standards will be more focused, easier to understand and more rigorous.

Chicago’s Whitney M. Young Magnet High School was singled out in the AP Report to the Nation for having the greatest number of African American students from the class of 2008 scoring 3 or higher on the AP English Language exam. Across the state, increasing numbers of African American and Latino students are participating in AP. 

 Other highlights of the 5th Annual AP Report to the Nation: