Record Number of Tennessee Students Take AP Exams, Eligible for College Credit

Thursday, October 25, 2018 | 08:12am

NASHVILLE—Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that more than 32,000 Tennessee public school students took Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2018 – breaking the previous year’s record high of 29,285 for Tennessee. In addition, the number of these students who scored a 3, 4, or 5, which makes students eligible for college credit at many institutions, increased from 16,242 last year to 17,049 this year.

AP classes offer students the ability to take college-level course work and earn college credit based on their performance on the national AP exam administered by the College Board. In recent years, the state has been encouraging schools to increase the availability and number of AP exams they offer as part of a diverse portfolio of early postsecondary opportunities. AP exams are one of the eight early postsecondary opportunities offered in Tennessee. Data show students who take at least four early postsecondary opportunities, which also includes IB programs, dual enrollment, dual credit, and industry certifications, are more likely to be prepared for college.

"In recent years, Tennessee has made great strides in creating and expanding early postsecondary opportunities for students, including growing the number of students participating in AP classes across the state," McQueen said. "The expansion of AP courses is one piece of making sure our students are prepared for the rigor of postsecondary coursework, and ultimately ready to be successful in their future careers. These results show that this emphasis is creating impactful change in our schools and allowing more of our students the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school."

Statewide, 32,222 Tennessee students took 53,871 AP tests in 2018 – about 5,500 more exams than were taken last year – with the most popular subject areas being English language and composition and U.S. history. The state also saw a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of students taking the computer science principles AP exam for 2018, which culminates a course on the underlying principles of computation and sets students up to take more advanced computer science courses.

Several districts also had encouraging results. In Oak Ridge, Elizabethton City, Maryville City, Collierville City, and Kingsport City Schools, more than 70 percent of AP exams taken by students earned a score of 3 or higher. Participation also increased across districts and Williamson County Schools again had the most students participate this year: 5,350, about 450 more students than participated last year.

As part of the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the department has created an accountability metric known as the Ready Graduate indicator. High school students in Tennessee are considered “ready” for the next step after graduation by meeting one of four checks for readiness. The Ready Graduate indicator is diverse in order to allow for student choice while measuring whether a student has demonstrated readiness for postsecondary and entering the workforce or military. Since students who participate in EPSOs are more likely to be successful in postsecondary, EPSOs, such as taking AP courses, are a critical component of the Ready Graduate indicator.

For district-level results, please contact your local school district. For more information about all of Tennessee’s early postsecondary opportunities, visit the department’s early postsecondary website or contact the department’s director of early postsecondary, Tandra Martin, at For media inquiries, please contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at or (615) 532-6260.