Maryland slips to second in AP tests for the first time in a decade

Maryland slipped about 1 percent last year in the number of high school seniors to pass an AP exam

Maryland's decade-long reign as the state with the greatest percentage of students to pass an Advanced Placement test has come to an end.

The state placed second in the nation last year with 30.4 percent of high school seniors passing the rigorous exams. Massachusetts finished first with 31 percent of seniors earning a score of three or better, the threshold for many colleges to award credit. The tests are scored on a scale of one to five. A score of three or higher is considered passing.

The nonprofit College Board released the annual test results Wednesday. In Maryland, the number of students who passed exams last year slipped 1.3 percent from 31.7 percent in both 2015 and 2014.

Almost half of all high school graduates in Maryland took an AP test last year. State educators noted Wednesday's scores mark the third consecutive year more than 30 percent of Maryland students passed an AP test.

"The latest data from the College Board indicates continued growth in the program and a high rate of success for Maryland students. All students should have the opportunity to succeed in rigorous educational programs," Karen Salmon, Maryland superintendent of schools, said in a statement.

Connecticut finished third with 30.1 percent of seniors passing an AP exam last year.

Many colleges and universities offer course credit to students with high scores, allowing them to graduate early and save money. After a decade-long push by Maryland officials and the College Board, the rigorous college-level courses and end-of-year exams now are offered to students across the state. The number of students who sat for an exam grew from 8,447 in 1990 to 17,095 last year.

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