Failure rate for AP tests climbing.

By Jack Gillum and Greg Toppo

The number of students taking Advanced Placement tests hit a record high last year, but the portion who fail the exams — particularly in the South — is rising as well, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Students last year took a record 2.9 million exams through the AP program, which challenges high school students with college-level courses. Passing the exams (a score of 3 or higher on the point scale of 1 to 5) may earn students early college credits, depending on a college’s criteria.

The findings about the failure rates raise questions about whether schools are pushing millions of students into AP courses without adequate preparation — and whether a race for higher standards means schools are not training enough teachers to deliver the high-level material.

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