California students ranked in the top 10 nationwide for their passing rate on last year’s Advanced Placement exams. Nearly 145,000 high school seniors from the class of 2012, about 37 percent, took at least one AP test and nearly a quarter of them passed, according to the latest results released Wednesday by the College Board. AP tests are scored on a scale of one to five and students who earn a three or higher often receive college credit for class.

Participation and performance rates on AP exams for California's class of 2012.  Source: College Board.  (click to enlarge).

Participation and performance rates on AP exams for California’s class of 2012. Source: College Board. (click to enlarge).

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the “results reflect the high value California students and families place on being ready for college — and the increasing success our students and schools are having in achieving that goal.”

The increases are occurring across all income levels and racial and ethnic groups. About 58,000 low-income students in the class of 2012 took at least one AP exam, up from 52,700 in the class of 2011. Among Latino students, the number of AP test takers rose by nearly 5,000 between the two classes, up to 53,249, and more than a third passed.

California high schools offer advanced placement courses in more than 30 subjects including English composition, U.S. history, calculus, and biology. However, there is wide variation among schools in the type and number of courses available. The State Board of Education is considering using AP pass rates as one factor in a school’s API score under a revised formula being developed.

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