The number of Michigan high school students enrolling and succeeding in advanced coursework has grown in the last four years including among historically underrepresented groups, state education officials said on Tuesday.

The Michigan Department of Education said there was an 18% increase in the number of Michigan students enrolling in Advanced Placement courses, from 67,285 students in the 2014-2015 school year to 79,546 students in the 2018-2019 school year.

Officials said the number of Hispanic/Latino students taking AP courses grew by 63%, economically disadvantaged students by 39% and African American/Two or More Races students by 14%.

The department also reported a 78% increase in the number of Michigan students enrolled in International Baccalaureate programs, from 7,185 students in the 2014-2015 school year to 12,822 in 2018-2019.

Special-needs students enrolled in IB programs grew by 201%, economically disadvantaged by 111%, Hispanic/Latino by 99% and African American/Two or More Races by 83%.

State superintendent Michael Rice said it is good news that more students are taking advantage of the opportunity to tackle challenging coursework and qualify for college credit.

"When students are provided with opportunity and encouragement, along with great instruction from their teachers, they succeed," Rice said.

Students scoring well on end-of-course AP and IB exams are eligible to earn college credit. Students need to receive a score of three or higher on an AP exam, or a score of four or higher on an IB exam, to qualify for college credit.

State education officials said Michigan saw an 11% increase in students receiving scores of 3 or higher on their AP assessments and a 21% increase in Michigan students scoring a 4 or higher on the IB assessment in the last four school years.

Education statistics from 2019 show that Advanced Placement tests are overwhelmingly taken by white high school students, including in Michigan.

A look at Michigan data from the nonprofit College Board shows minority students make up a smaller portion of AP test-takers in high school.

Of the 110,149 AP tests taken by Michigan students in 2019, about 71.7% of test-takers were white while 4.4% were black and 6.2% were Hispanic. Asian students were 12% of test-takers.

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio said jobs today and in the future will require advanced learning, training, and skills.

"Programs like AP and IB help expand opportunities for students to advance and get a jump start on a future career pathway," Donofrio said. 

AP is a program created by the College Board that offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students.

IB programs help students ask challenging questions; think critically; and develop research skills proven to help them in higher education.

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