Nevada Leading the Nation in College Readiness Growth on AP Exams

Immediate Release


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Greg Bortolin
775.687.9201
- February 21, 2018

CARSON CITY, Nev.Nevada high school graduates have had both the largest five-year increase and three-year increase in the percentage of public high school graduates demonstrating college readiness on their Advanced Placement (AP) Exams. Nevada saw increases of 6.6 percent over the past three years and 8.2 percent over the past five years of students earning a 3 or higher on their AP Exams.

In May 2017, Nevada high school students took a total of 18,878 AP Exams that resulted in scores of 3 or higher, which demonstrates college readiness. Based on Nevada students’ opportunity to earn at least three college credits for each AP Exam of 3 or higher, this represents an estimated 56,634 college credits.

“Our high school graduates are the fastest improving in the nation on the AP Exam,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction. “At an average rate of $242 per credit hour, the total potential cost savings for our state’s students and families was nearly $14 million. That’s good for our economy and the development of the skilled workforce that Nevada’s new economy is demanding.”

Overall, Nevada’s graduating class of 2017 was 14th in the nation, scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam with 24.7 percent exceeding the mark. Nationally, 22.8 percent exceeded a 3 or higher. Nevada has shown tremendous improvement over the past decade. In 2007, only 14.2 percent of Nevada students scored a 3 or higher.

Nevada will continue to lead the nation in AP increases through its work to expand access to rural communities.  Through its grant making, the Department will work with school districts in rural communities to provide digital access to a dozen Advanced Placement classes through existing programs, resources, and teachers available in Clark County.  Next year students all across Nevada will be able to access AP classes at their school library or even on the bus to and from school.

Nevada students demonstrated the highest rate of success in Student Art: 2-D Design Portfolio, and Spanish Language and Culture AP Courses. Approximately 90 percent of the students who took these two AP Exams scored a 3 or higher.

The College Board also tracks students from the graduating class to determine whether graduating seniors had AP potential to succeed in college freshman courses. By race/ethnicity, 86 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students from this data set took the AP STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Exam; 74 percent of Asian students took the AP STEM Exam; 49 percent of Black/African American students took the AP STEM Exam; 59 percent of Hispanic/Latino students took the AP STEM Exam and 59 percent of the White students took the AP STEM Exam.


Nevada is focused on expanding participation in the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) course as a career pathway leading to 2,731 computing jobs that are currently open in Nevada. In December 2016, Governor Brian Sandoval announced that Nevada would partner with the College Board and Code.org to expand computer science coursework in the state. The Nevada Legislature followed up with legislation in 2017 that requires a computer science course in every public and charter high school in the state. Of the 304 Nevada students who took the initial AP CSP exam last May, 66 percent earned a score of 3 or higher.

The College and Career Readiness (CCR) and the Title IV, A competitive grants provide opportunities for districts to expand access to AP courses and funding for students to take AP exams. Districts may apply for funds to subsidize the cost of AP Exams for low-income and other traditionally underserved students.  The Nevada Department of Education awarded more than $650,000 in the CCR grant to expand access to AP courses and over $350,000 of that was used specifically to pay for AP Exam fees, which amounts to 6,767 exams at the free and reduced priced lunch rate. In addition, the Department awarded nearly $100,000 in Title IV, A funding for exam fees for rural students and to provide access to AP courses for rural districts. 

“I would like to call out the Clark County School District for going above and beyond in promoting the AP Exams for low income students,” said Seng-Dao Yang Keo, NDE Director of the Office of Student and School Supports. “Using Title I, district and state grant funds, CCSD AP Exam takers received $698,164 in AP Exam assistance.”