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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Corine Barney's Advanced Placement calculus class studies at Davis High School in Kaysville, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013.

SALT LAKE CITY — More Utah students are taking Advanced Placement exams and are passing those exams at a rate well ahead of the national average, according to new data released Wednesday by the College Board.

A total of 20,638 students took 33,217 AP exams during the 2012-13 school year, an increase of more than 8 percent in both indicators compared to last year.

Of those 33,217 tests, 22,398 earned a score of 3 or higher — the score required to earn college credit — giving Utah's best and brightest a success rate of 67.4 percent. Nationally, the average success rate is 56.9 percent, according to the College Board, which administers Advanced Placement.

“It’s very gratifying to see more of our students from a variety of backgrounds opting to voluntarily increase the rigor of their education by participating and succeeding in this program,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martell Menlove said in a prepared statement. “This is a measurable step forward in meeting the challenges of helping all Utah students become college and career ready.”

The College Board report also shows AP participation in Utah up among all racial and ethnic minority groups. The number of Mexican-American students who took an AP exam increased 10.7 percent, with Asian students up 19 percent, American Indian students up 21.1 percent, black students up 22.5 percent and Hispanic students up 23.3 percent.

Participation among white students saw the smallest increase, with 8.5 percent more students taking an AP exam this year.

The 10 high schools with the highest total participation were Davis High School, Skyline High School, Alta High School, Lone Peak High School, Hillcrest High School, Park City High School, Brighton High School, Viewmont High School, Copper Hills High School and Bountiful High School, according to the State Office of Education.

In terms of success rates, the top 10 high schools were Mountain High School with 86.3 percent, followed by Juab High, North Summit High, Olympus Junior High, Bountiful High, Davis High, Piute High, Lone Peak High, American Fork High and Lehi High School.

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The report by the College Board also showed a 8.3 percent drop in the number of Utah students taking the SAT exam. But education officials say that drop is expected as it coincides with recent action by state legislators to fund the ACT exam for all high school students.

"As we approach 100 percent participation in the ACT, we assume some of that is going to be a loss of interest in the SAT," State Office of Education spokesman Mark Peterson said. "Most colleges, though not all, will now accept the ACT and if you can take the ACT for free in Utah and it costs money to take the SAT, we assume that’s an economic equation anyone going to college can make."

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