April , 2019

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Letters to Editors

From Linda Chapa LaVia

Chair, Illinois House Education Committee

As the chair of the House Education Committee, I am dedicated to offering all Illinois students access to a top-quality education that will prepare them for college and career success. As a product of Illinois’ public schools and the first in my family to earn a college degree, I know about hard work and how the influence of strong mentors have helped to shape the life I lead today.

Unfortunately, far too many of our students are not receiving the guidance and support they need to pursue their academic potential.

One tool more educators are using to prepare students for success in college and careers is the Advanced Placement Program. New data from the College Board show that Illinois has made significant progress in increasing student access to AP over the past decade. Nearly a third – 32.4 percent – of Illinois’ public high school graduates in the class of 2013 took an Advanced Placement Exam, compared to 17.8 percent in the class of 2003. The percentage of Illinois graduates who scored a 3 or higher (scores typically required for college credit) rose from 13 percent a decade ago to more than 21 percent in 2013. This means that more of our public high school students are developing the skills they need to excel in college and earn a college degree.

Based on data for the public high school class of 2013, Illinois was one of only two states with a Hispanic graduate population greater than 10% that eliminated the equity gap in AP participation.

Progress has also been made in closing the performance gap with an increase, from 14.6% for the class of 2012 to 16.1% for the class of 2013, in the percentage of Hispanic AP Exam takers scoring a 3 or higher.

We are fortunate to have policymakers who are staunchly committed to the value of AP.

In the past eight years, Illinois’ College and Career Success for All Students Act has expanded and enhanced AP and pre-AP programming for low-income students. Districts with a high percentage of low-income students are eligible for grants appropriated through the Illinois Department of Education to establish or expand these programs.

We have made significant progress, but there’s much more work to be done.

If we are to move forward with these efforts, we must ensure that low-income students can take AP exams at no cost through a combination of federal and state support.

We can also increase funding for the College and Career Success for All Students grants to enable more schools to participate.

Rigorous programs such as AP lead the way to college and career readiness, and help to give our students the boost they need to build a bright and productive future.

─ Linda Chapa LaVia, Chair, Illinois House Education Committee

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