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Thousands of Michigan Students Are Ready for Advanced Placement Courses

LANSING – Thousands of parents in Michigan with high school students will be receiving a letter in the mail soon explaining that their student has the potential to be successful in a rigorous Advanced Placement course and to earn college credit while in high school.

Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has partnered with the College Board to utilize the Advanced Placement (AP) Potential Tool that identifies students who are likely to score a 3 or higher on a given AP exam, based on the student’s performance on the Spring 2022 PSAT 8/9 or PSAT 10. Scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam can qualify high school students to receive college credit while in high school.

“Notifying parents and guardians prior to or during the sophomore year of students’ education helps to expand the number and percentage of students in rigorous coursework in high school, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups, including economically disadvantaged students,” explained State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “This opportunity also supports students in earning college credit, which can help change a student’s sense of capability and life direction and reduce the cost of college.”

Over 40,000 letters are being sent to households in Michigan this week to inform parents and guardians that their high school student has the potential for success in an AP course. The AP program enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. The program consists of college-level courses developed by the College Board’s AP Program that high schools can choose to offer, and corresponding exams that are administered once a year. In the 2021-22 school year, 15 percent of Michigan high school students enrolled in an AP course.

“Secondary school principals are always looking to expand opportunities for students to earn college credit in high school,” said Wendy Zdeb, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. “While there are many potential pathways, Advanced Placement coursework provides the opportunity for families to reduce the financial burden of post-secondary education. MASSP continues to support credit and certification options that help all students to be college and career ready.”

The College Board administers the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and SAT assessments and has developed the AP Potential tool to identify AP students and choose the AP courses that interest them. The AP Potential Tool is rooted in a long line of research showing that PSAT/NMSQT scores, and by extension SAT scores, predict performance on specific AP Exams—often with more accuracy than other traditionally used methods.

There are 38 AP courses offered by the College Board in seven subject categories. Each AP course is modeled on a comparable introductory college course in the subject. Each course culminates in a standardized college-level assessment, or AP exam, given in May each year.

“There are significant numbers of students who can succeed in AP without high PSAT scores,” Dr. Rice said. “PSAT scores are one way to predict success in advanced coursework. In addition, there are other rigorous academic paths available for students. We want our children to challenge themselves, with support from educators, and to reach for the highest level of education.”

Additional opportunities for students who are prepared for college-level coursework include dual enrollment and Early Middle College (EMC) programs, many career and technical education courses and programs, or an International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), if available. MDE’s letter to parents and guardians encourages students to consider these rigorous options, and school counselors are urged to share about these options in local school districts, as available, as well.

MDE recognizes that not all Michigan high schools offer AP courses. If a school does not currently offer AP courses, school leaders can learn more about how to start an AP Program on the College Board’s website. Part of the process of starting an AP program is the use of the AP Potential Tool. Local school districts may also consider partnering with Michigan Virtual to offer AP courses.

The use of the AP Potential tool by MDE aligns with Goal 4 of Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan—to expand secondary learning opportunities for all students, Goal 5—to increase the percentage of all students who graduate from high school, and Goal 6—to increase the percentage of adults with a postsecondary credential.