Georgia has emerged as a leader in preparing students for college-level work, while South Carolina is roughly in the middle of the pack, according to an annual report on Advanced Placement exam results released Wednesday by The College Board.
For the class of 2010, 19.1 percent of Georgia's graduates had scored 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, which was the 11th-highest rate in the nation and is up from 18.5 percent for the class of 2009. The exams are scored on a 5-point scale, and 3 is generally high enough to earn college course credit.
Both of those marks are above the national average, which rose from 15.9 percent in 2009 to 16.9 percent in 2010.
"Our students must have rigorous coursework in high school to be successful after they graduate," state School Superintendent John Barge said in a statement. "I am so pleased that more of our students than ever are taking AP courses and passing the exam."
In South Carolina, 15.1 percent of 2010 graduates scored 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, which was 22nd in the nation and up from 14.9 percent in 2009.
In a news release accompanying the results, the Georgia Department of Education highlighted the state's efforts from 2003 to 2010 to have more students take AP exams and succeed.
During those seven years, economically disadvantaged students had all of their AP exams paid for by the state each year. Georgia awarded $970,693 in grants to train 1,342 new teachers of AP courses, which have allowed 792 new AP courses to be offered in public high schools. This year, the department said, an additional 400 AP teachers will be trained.
The AP report also examined how successful states were at ensuring equity and excellence for different racial groups on the exams.
A state that had roughly the same percentage of students of a race graduate and percentage of students scoring 3 or above on at least one AP exam was said to have made that standard for that race.
Georgia ranked 15th in the nation on this standard for black students, as they made up 11.6 percent of successful AP test-takers in the class of 2010 and were 34.8 percent of the overall graduating class.
South Carolina was 42nd for black students, who made up 8.4 percent of that state's successful AP test-takers and were 38 percent of the graduating class.
For Hispanic students, Georgia was one of 13 states plus the District of Columbia that achieved 100 percent of equity and excellence. Hispanic students made up 6.3 percent of Georgia's 2010 graduates, and 6.7 percent of successful AP test-takers among those graduates.
South Carolina wasn't far off that mark. Hispanic students made up 3.6 percent of its 2010 graduating class, and 3.1 percent of the class' successful AP test-takers.