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July 6, 2005

Melanie Mowry Etters
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Lauds Record Number of Students Taking Pre-College Exams
Minorities continue to lead the way in number of test takers

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced that record numbers of Florida's students are taking pre-college exams. More students than ever before are taking the PSAT, PLAN and Advanced Placement exams as a precursor to postsecondary education.

"Florida students are showing a commitment to enhancing their own education by taking advantage of rigorous college courses while still fulfilling their high school course requirements," said Commissioner Winn. "These students are taking Florida to the top of the charts in student achievement."

The PSAT and PLAN help identify students who might do well in higher-level courses while in high school. They also give students practice in taking college entrance exams and provide a measure of each student's academic strengths and weaknesses. The cost of the exams is covered by the state of Florida.

Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test/PLAN

  • Florida currently provides the opportunity for all tenth grade students to take the either the PSAT/MSNQT or PLAN.
  • Nearly 135,000 tenth graders took the PSAT in 2004, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. Two-thirds of Florida tenth graders took the PSAT/MSNQT and an additional nine percent took the PLAN.
  • The largest increase in the number of PSAT test takers in 2004 was among minorities. African American students led the way with a 30-percent increase in the number of test takers, while the number of Hispanic test takers increased eight percent and white students increased by 11 percent.
  • From 1999 to 2004, the number of Hispanics taking the PSAT increased by 518 percent and the number of African American students taking the PSAT increased by 407 percent, compared to 175 percent among white students and 144 percent among Asians.

Advanced Placement (AP)

Florida's partnership with the College Board gives minority students and students who are underrepresented in higher education an opportunity to prepare for a postsecondary career. Nearly 93 percent of 11th and 12th graders attend schools which offered Advanced Placement courses in 2004. This access to higher level coursework has paid off in that Florida is seeing significant increases in the number of students taking an Advanced Placement curriculum and enrolled in dual enrollment courses.

  • Between 2000 and 2004, the number of Florida students taking AP exams increased by 77 percent, up from 38,184 students to 67,558. This includes a 110-percent increase among Hispanic students, a 93-percent increase in African American students, and a 66-percent increase among both white and Asian students.
  • Florida students take more exams than do AP test takers nationwide. Overall, test takers nationwide averaged 1.71 exams, compared to an average of 1.89 for Florida students. Florida Asian students take more AP exams than any other student group, with an average of 2.15 exams, compared to 1.84 exams for white students, 1.69 for Hispanics, and 1.62 for African Americans.

From 1998-99 to 2003-04, the number of Florida students taking dual enrollment courses increased by over 22 percent, with the largest increase among minority students. The number of African American students rose by more than 32 percent and Hispanic student enrollment jumped by 77 percent.

Participation in advanced level coursework while in high school is the biggest predictor of postsecondary success. The Florida Partnership for Minority and Underrepresented Student Achievement Act dramatically increases the opportunities for students in predominately minority high schools to take Advanced Placement classes and get a head start on earning college credit. This partnership is paying off as more students than ever, especially minorities, are ready for college and the workforce.

For more information on the PSAT, PLAN, or AP exams, please visit