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Massachusetts ranks fourth in the nation in the percentage of 2013 public high school graduates who scored 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams.
Advanced Placement exams are scored on a five-point scale with 3 indicating a student is considered qualified of doing the work of an introductory-level course in a particular subject at college.
According to a new report by the College Board, which administers the test, nearly 28 percent of Massachusetts 2013 high school graduates scored 3 or higher - up from nearly 17 percent in 2003.
That places Massachusetts behind Maryland, which ranked first, followed by Connecticut and Virginia.
Nationally, about 20 percent of 2013 public high school graduates scored a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement Exam.
Some colleges and universities grant credit for scores of 3, 4 or 5.
The report showed that the number of Massachusetts public high school graduates who took at least one AP exam during their high school career has also increased.
In 2003, 13,051 high school graduates had taken an AP course compared with 24,610 in the class of 2013, an increase of 89 percent. The number who scored a 3 or higher also increased, from 9,419 in the class of 2003 to 17,616 in the class of 2013.
"Today's results demonstrate steady progress in boosting educational performance," Gov. Deval Patrick said in a written statement. "I applaud our hard working students and teachers."
The report also found that the performance of minority and low-income students in Massachusetts improved over the past decade.
The number of black students taking an AP exam during high school increased from 423 in the class of 2003 to 1,393 in the class of 2013, with the number scoring a 3 or higher growing from 147 to 555.
For Hispanic students, the number taking an AP exam increased from 510 to 1,932 over the past decade, with the number scoring a 3 or higher growing from 380 to 1,054.
For low-income graduates, the number taking an AP exam increased from 957 to 4,675 over the past decade, with the number scoring 3 or higher growing from 485 to 2,367.
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