The number of Maryland students taking and passing Advanced Placement exams is on the rise, though the state’s overall ranking dropped for the second year in a row.

The percentage of high school seniors who scored a 3 or higher on one or more AP tests reached 31.6 percent last year, the Maryland State Department of Education announced Wednesday.


That represents a huge leap from a decade earlier, when just 23.2 percent of graduating seniors passed the tests in 2008. The subject-area tests are scored on a scale of one to five.

Maryland’s scores position it near the top of the nation in terms of AP test success, but it was the second year that the state’s ranking has fallen.

Maryland long enjoyed the top spot in the nation, but last year fell to second in the nation. Now, it’s fourth.

Three states — Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida — had a higher percentage of seniors earn a passing score of 3 or higher.

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Most colleges and universities will award credit based on AP scores, giving students a leg up in their higher education.

Nearly half of Maryland graduates took an AP test while in high school, and a record 27,387 graduating seniors took an exam in 2018.

Maryland is in the beginning stages of the Lead Higher Initiative, which aims to close equity gaps for low-income students and students of color in advanced courses. The program did not have a significant impact on last year’s senior class, officials said, but its influence should become apparent over time.

State Superintendent Karen Salmon said in a statement that she is continuing to look for opportunities to expand access to AP courses.

“Maryland schools continue their focus on preparing graduates for careers or additional education, and the Advanced Placement courses provide students with important challenges,” Salmon said. “We believe our students will continue to rise above the bars that we set.”