Florida continues to rank among the top states in the nation for student performance on Advanced Placement exams, jumping to fourth from sixth in 2012, according to results released by the College Board Wednesday.
Last year, 27.3 percent of Florida's public high school graduates earned a 3 or above on a 5-point scale. That beat the national average of 19.5 percent. It also was up compared to the previous year, when about 24 percent of Florida's graduates got a 3 or better.
Maryland was first in the country, followed by New York and Massachusetts.
On another measure — AP participation — Florida was tops in the nation, with 53 percent of its 2012 high school graduates taking the exam while in school. This is the fourth year in a row that Florida ranked first among the 50 states. The national average for participation in the exam was 32.4 percent.
In prepared statements, both Gov. Rick Scott and new Education Commissioner Tony Bennett praised teachers for the results.
Scott's statement said, in part, that teachers "continue to pave the way for the Sunshine State's successes in education." Bennett's statement credited the "hard work on the part of Florida's teachers" for the results.
The College Board, a nonprofit organization, has administered the AP program since 1955, offering 34 college-level classes and exams in subjects such as calculus, chemistry, English, U.S. history and music theory.
Florida has pushed school districts to increase enrollment in Advanced Placement courses. The state includes student participation and performance in its grading formula for high schools. It also pays for the exams, a cost of $89 per test.
The state requires school districts to award bonuses to AP teachers. The bonus is $50 for every one of their students who receives a passing score of 3 or higher. An extra $500 is awarded to teachers in "D" or "F" schools where at least one of their students passes the test.
The maximum bonus an AP teacher can receive is $2,000.
Many universities offer students college credit based on their test score, though some will only issue credit with a score of 4 or 5.
The higher the score, typically the more credit a student can get, which can be a valuable opportunity to skip lower-level college coursework.
Contact Cara Fitzpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8846. You can also follow her on Twitter @Fitz_ly.