Advanced Placement Student Participation and Performance Climb in Unison

New AP Pathways Expand Definitions of College and Career Readiness and Success; State-Driven Policies Provide Students with Record Access to AP Coursework

New York - A record number of U.S. public high school students are succeeding in Advanced Placement® (AP®) courses, reflecting sustained student performance even as access expands across the country. More than 1.24 million students in the class of 2019 took 4.26 million AP Exams in public high schools nationwide, according to the AP Program Results: Class of 2019 report released today. The report also shows 764,702 students, or 23.9% of the class of 2019, took an AP Exam and scored a 3 or higher during high school.

Over the last 10 years, the number of U.S. public high school graduates who have taken an AP Exam has increased by 57%. Over the same time, the number of students who have scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam has increased by 60%.

“More than ever, teachers, school leaders, and policymakers are recognizing the value of AP and making student access a priority,” says College Board CEO David Coleman. “There are over 5,000 more high schools with AP courses today than there were in 2009, and programs like AP Capstone and AP with WE Service are broadening the definition even further of what it means to succeed in AP and show readiness for college.”

From 2009 to 2019, the number of schools participating in AP rose from 17,374 to 22,678. The opportunity to earn college credit is a key benefit of AP. Students can save time and money and get a head start on completing their degree with credits earned from their college-level AP work. The number of states expanding opportunities to earn college credit has more than doubled in recent years—from 14 in 2014 to 31 in 2019.

“The expansion of AP opportunities is a rare point of consensus in the world of education policy. When states prioritize increasing access to Advanced Placement coursework, students succeed,” says Trevor Packer, head of the Advanced Placement Program at the College Board. “To every educator offering the courses, supporting the students, and teaching the classes—thank you. It’s your achievement on display in this report.”

In recent years, the AP Program has broadened the pipeline to promising careers through courses like AP Computer Science Principles, changed the nature of high-stakes exams in programs like AP Capstone, and promoted local and global citizenship by integrating civic engagement and projects into AP coursework.

AP Computer Science 

Computer science is one of the fastest-growing fields in the world, and more students than ever are benefiting from AP computer science courses. Since its launch in 2016, AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) continues to engage more high school students in next-generation learning through an innovative, project-based approach to coursework.

By 2019, nearly 100,000 students took an AP CSP Exam, more than doubling participation in just 3 years. Overall participation in AP computer science is up 184% over the last 4 years, and in that time, participation by underrepresented students outpaced overall growth.

Participation in AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A*






% increase







Black/African American












U.S. Rural












*Data from annual spring AP Exam administrations

In 2019, 20% more schools earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for expanding young women’s access to computer science courses and closing the gender gap among their AP computer science students.

“Looking at the history of computer science in America, we see that women were instrumental in building so much of the technology we now take for granted,” said Stefanie Sanford, chief of global policy for the College Board. “Given the right invitation, we know young women will jump at the chance to master technology and drive one of the most dynamic sectors of our economy. That’s what you’re seeing with AP Computer Science Principles, where female participation has more than doubled in the last three years.”

A 2014 Google study found that women are more likely to pursue computer science if they are given the opportunity to explore it in high school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology jobs are projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for those occupations was $86,320 in May 2018, more than double the annual pay for all occupations.

“This is certainly about more equitable pathways to Silicon Valley, but it’s even bigger than that,” Sanford said. “All companies are tech companies now. Technology is becoming a core discipline for 21st-century success and citizenship.”

AP Capstone

The AP Capstone Diploma program is based on two yearlong courses, AP Seminar and AP Research. In AP Capstone, students are assessed on a series of projects they develop individually and in teams, and presentations as well as written essays. Students take an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills they need for college-level work.

According to 2019 exam administration data, the number of students who participated in the AP Capstone Diploma program has increased by 291% since the launch of AP Seminar in 2015. Over the last year, 31% more schools offered AP Capstone and 41% more students earned an AP Capstone award.

AP Citizenship

The College Board continues to work with partner organizations across the country to deepen civic engagement among AP students.

In the AP with WE Service program, students take part in service-learning activities to build a deeper understanding of civic responsibility, tackle real-life public issues, and strengthen their communities.

Since 2017 more than 10,000 students have participated in AP with WE Service. In 2020, the College Board will award two $50,000 AP with WE Service Scholarships, supported by The Allstate Foundation, to recognize especially outstanding student service-learning projects.

In 2019, the AP Program introduced two new modules for AP U.S. Government and Politics in partnership with AP with WE and Generation Citizen: Using Politics to Improve Participation in Elections and Using Politics to Address Topics in Federalism.

The College Board worked closely with the National Constitution Center on two new programs that launched in 2019. The First Amendment Plan of Study is an open, interactive curriculum that uses modern political issues to explore the U.S. Constitution and its legal history, while the Classroom Exchanges program brings together students in different parts of the country for a constitutional debate moderated by federal judges and other legal experts.

State Highlights

For the fourth consecutive year Massachusetts leads the nation in the percentage of students taking and succeeding in AP. In Massachusetts, 33.8% of public-school graduates from the class of 2019 scored 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam. This represents a 13.0 percentage-point increase from 2009, making it the state with the largest 10-year increase in performance.

The District of Columbia had the largest three-year and five-year increases in the percentage of public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam. And Illinois had the largest one-year increase in the percentage of public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam.

Top 10 States with the Highest Percentage of 2019 Public High School Graduates Scoring a 3 or Higher on an AP Exam During High School:

  • Massachusetts: 33.8
  • Connecticut: 32.5
  • Florida: 32.3
  • California: 32.1
  • Maryland: 31.5
  • New Jersey: 29.6
  • Colorado: 29.2
  • New York: 29.0
  • Virginia: 28.8
  • Illinois: 28.4