State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Commends California’s Continued Progress in Advanced Placement Exams

Boy-testState Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that annual Advanced Placement results released today show that the number of California public high school graduates taking and demonstrating success in AP courses continues to climb.

California placed fifth in the nation in the percentage (28.5 percent) of graduates who scored at least a 3 out of 5 on an AP Exam during high school—an increase of nearly eight percentage points since 2006 (20.6 percent).

“I applaud and congratulate these outstanding students, their schools and families,” Torlakson said. “It’s important to recognize that more students are taking very rigorous, college-level courses and more of them are succeeding.”

The annual AP Cohort Data Report by the College Board shows that 42.4 percent of California’s public high school graduates in the Class of 2016 took an AP Exam during high school (compared to 30.8 percent of graduates in the Class of 2006). The number of Class of 2016 students in California taking an AP Exam grew to more than 170,000, up from about 106,000 in 2006.

 The report also shows growing AP participation among diverse student groups in California. The percentage of low-income AP Exam takers in the 2016 graduating class was 45.2 percent, compared to 44.2 percent in 2015. The percentage of low-income AP Exam takers in the 2016 who scored at least a 3 out of 5 on an AP Exam in 2016 was 41.2 percent—up from 40 percent in 2015.

In May 2016, California public and private school students took a total of 743,280 AP exams. Of those, 429,652 resulted in a score of 3, 4, or 5. According to the College Board, these scores represent an estimated 1,288,956 college credits and a potential cost savings of $401,548,463 for California students and their families. California experienced more than 6 percent growth in the number of AP exams taken and 5 percent growth in the number of AP Exam scores of 3 or higher.

The following 22 school districts from California were named to the College Board’s Seventh Annual AP District Honor Roll for expanding access to AP and increasing the percentages of students scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams: Arcadia Unified,* Barstow Unified, Brawley Union High School District,* Capistrano Unified,* Coast Unified, Diocese of Orange Education Office,* Dublin Unified,* Firebaugh Las Deltas Unified, Hayward Unified,* Imperial Unified, Jurupa Unified, Live Oak Unified, Los Alamitos Unified,* Lynwood Unified, Orland Unified, Pierce Joint Unified, San Ramon Valley Unified,* Selma Unified, South Monterey County High School District, Sutter Union High School District, Tamalpais Union High School District, and Washington Unified. (*District has achieved the honor for multiple years. Lynwood Unified School District also received the special distinction of National Medium-Size District Winner.

 Success in AP courses is one measure of pupil achievement, which is one of eight state priorities addressed under the new Local Control and Accountability Plan.

More information on the operation of the College Board‘s AP program in California, please visit the CDE AP Web page.

For more information on AP exams in California, read also Turning Negatives Into Positives, California Schools magazine, Spring 2015.


The California Department of Education is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education’s Web site or by mobile device. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.