Rhode Island Makes Great Strides in AP Participation, #1 in Nation for Achievement Growth

Published on Wednesday, May 22, 2024

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Governor Dan McKee, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner Assistant Commissioner Greg Ebner, Secretary of State Gregg Amore, Senate Education Chair Senator Sandra Cano, House Education Committee Chair Representative Joseph McNamara, and College Board Senior Director for State and District Partnerships Dena Johnson joined students and educators from across Rhode Island today to announce great strides in Advanced Placement participation and achievement and celebrate their accomplishments

According to College Board, Rhode Island is the top state in the nation for the largest 10-year growth in students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school. The percentage of graduates scoring a 3 or higher grew from 14.2 in the class of 2013 to 21.6 in the class of 2023. This ten-year growth 7.4 percentage points is almost triple the national average growth of 2.6 percentage points. Additionally, Rhode Island is sixth in the nation for largest 10-year growth in the percentage of graduates taking an AP exam during high school, growing 9.8 percentage points since 2013. 

“AP courses are instrumental in providing Rhode Island students with rigorous academic opportunities that prepare them for the challenges of higher education and beyond,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Investing in AP education is not just an investment in our students' future success but also in the future prosperity of Rhode Island as a whole." 

The Advanced Placement Program enables high school students to pursue college-level studies and earn college credits based on AP exam performance. The following high schools received recognition for increasing participation in AP courses:  

  • Alvarez High School, Providence 
  • Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy 
  • Shea High School, Pawtucket 
  • Tolman High School, Pawtucket 
  • Smithfield High School 
  • Davies Career and Technical High School 

The recognition event comes as Rhode Island schools expand AP offerings with AP African American Studies, which is being piloted at E-Cubed Academy in Providence this school year. Research shows that taking just one AP course in high school can improve students’ first-year college GPA and their likelihood of graduating college in four years with a bachelor’s degree. According to College Board, Rhode Island is sixth in the nation in the ten-year growth of Black students taking an AP exam, increasing nearly 10 percentage points to approximately 30% between 2013 and 2023.   

“By providing greater access to AP courses, Rhode Island can help bridge the opportunity gap and ensure that all students graduate with the skills and knowledge to succeed in college and career, regardless of their zip code, said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “We share our gratitude with the schools recognized that are committed to fostering cultures of high expectations and opening doors to higher education for all students.” 

“AP classwork not only helps prepare our high school students for the rigors of college courses, it also gives them a running start on the credits that they need to complete their degrees, thus reducing the cost of college and shortening the time to graduation,” said Greg Ebner, Ph.D., assistant commissioner of academics and student affairs, R.I. Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. “Making college more affordable, accessible, and equitable are all key goals of our postsecondary strategy in Rhode Island.” 

“Advanced Placement courses offer students the opportunity to challenge themselves in subjects they are passionate about, setting them up for success in college and beyond – and they were some of my favorite courses to teach at East Providence High School,” said Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. “Today, we celebrate the students who are choosing to take on the challenge of AP courses, as well as the efforts of our schools to make AP courses available to even more students.” 

Rhode Island is committed to graduating students with the skills for college and career success. The notable increase in both access and the performance of our students coincides with the decision to recognize schools and measure postsecondary outcomes like Advanced Placement scores, dual enrollment courses, and CTE through the Diploma Plus measure in school accountability. Diploma Plus recognizes high schools for the percentage of students who graduate with a diploma plus college credit or industry-recognized credentials. 

“Advanced Placement courses allow our students to challenge themselves and reveal their true educational capabilities before they enter higher education or the adult world. What our students learn in these classes prepare them for future success and I could not be more delighted from witnessing the strides toward higher scores taken and the acceptance of AP education that our students have demonstrated. They deserve our congratulations for making Rhode Island proud,” said Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sandra Cano. 

“AP courses challenge our students and have delivered results at the college level where students have not only graduated early but have been better prepared for the rigors of college study,” said House Education Chairman Joseph McNamara. 

Early college opportunities in Rhode Island are supported by the PrepareRI dual enrollment fund, the All Course Network, CS4RI, TwoCodes, and PrepareRI, as well as being supported by LEA-specific policies. To learn more about the State’s early college opportunities please visit: www.ride.ri.gov/StudentsFamilies/EducationPrograms/EarlyCollegeOpportunities


A group of students standing on marble steps
Students and staff from the six high schools honored, along with Governor McKee and Commissioner Infante-Green, stand on the RI State House rotunda steps for a photo.