FARMERSBURG, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Illinois State Board of Education recently announced that the state’s Advanced Placement students’ performance has outpaced all other states in the country.

Leading in both participation and performance, high school graduates are outperforming results from pre-pandemic years. According to data released by the College Board, between 2012 and 2022, Illinois has seen the largest 10-year increase of any state in the percentage of high school graduates that scores a 3 or above on their AP exam.

“Illinois students work hard. These impressive results in both AP and dual credit prove that our students are not only choosing to academically challenge themselves, but that they are exceeding expectations,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Sanders. “Congratulations to the tens of thousands of Illinois students across the state who, while up against the setback of an unprecedented pandemic, are leading the pack, preparing for successful futures, and earning well-deserved national recognition for their achievements.”

The number of high school students that are taking dual credit courses has also increased notably by 30 percent since 2018, jumping from around 61,500 in 2018 to about 90,000 in 2022. While the number of high school graduates who took an AP exam during high school increased to 42 percent over the last decade, compared to the 14 percent increase nationwide. Just in 2022, 55,025 Illinois graduates took an AP exam, with 36,240 scoring a 3 or higher.

“Broadening the invitation to AP courses has a powerful impact on students’ college plans and career ambitions,” said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President of AP & Instruction. “Illinois’ success in preparing students for AP will have lasting benefits for students and their families.”

High school students in both public and private schools in Illinois have earned a total of 137,446 qualifying AP scores of 3 or higher in 2022. These scores can translate into around 412,338 potential college credits.

“The best investment we can make for our state’s future is in our young people—and that means making higher education more affordable. While we work to pass a state budget that includes historic investments in the MAP grant program, we’ve also prioritized expanding access to Advanced Placement programs in our state’s high schools—especially for low-income students,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Through these investments, more Illinois students than ever before have the opportunity to save thousands of dollars in tuition costs as they further their education. It’s clear so many of our bright and talented young people are working hard to take advantage of those opportunities that will continue to benefit them after graduation.”

Within the class of 2022, more than one in four Illinois public high school graduates scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam. A score of 3 or higher on an AP exam qualifies for free college credit at all public colleges and universities in Illinois. Participation has continued to grow thanks to supplemental funding from the state, which reduces exam costs to only $7 for low-income students and provides grant opportunities for districts looking to expand AP opportunities, with a focus on providing the options to districts that do not currently offer AP courses.