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More Indiana students are taking and passing advanced placement exams.

The Indiana Department of Education announced last month that about 1,200 more public school students in the class of 2018 took AP exams than those in the previous year's graduating class.

The IDOE's data show that the rate of Indiana public school students earning a passing grade of 3 or higher has increased 12.6 percent in the last three years.

"Our recent data show more Hoosier high school students are earning early college credit through AP and dual credit courses than ever before," Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said in an IDOE news release. "We are encouraged by this trend, as early college credit leads to higher success rates and cost savings for students and the state."

A score of 3 or higher is needed to pass the exam, evaluated on a 1 to 5 scale. Each AP course is modeled off of comparable college courses, allowing high schoolers both an opportunity to excel in rigorous courses and develop study habits in preparation for higher education.

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Research shows students who perform well in these advanced courses are better prepared for college, according to the IDOE news release.

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The AP exam typically administered to high school students taking college-level preparatory courses is prepared by the College Board and offers students the opportunity to receive college credits for high scores from participating universities.

The increases continue a trend of growth in the number of exams administered and passed in the last decade.

The rate of public high school students taking the college-level exams increased nearly 20 percent since 2008, according to IDOE. The number of public high school students earning a 3 or higher has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

"The continual increase in the number of schools offering AP exams, and the number of students passing exams shows once more Indiana is preparing students for the rigors of post-secondary experiences," Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said in a news release. "We have the responsibility to aid in the preparation of students for their next four decades not just their next four years beyond high school."

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.