Ascension Parish public schools achieved strong gains in both participation and success by students taking part in the Advanced Placement test, according to data released last week.

The Louisiana Department of Education released the 2014-15 data on results showing how students across the state did on the tests.

During the past two years, Ascension achieved a 43 percent increase in the number of students taking AP exams and a 62 percent increase in the number of students scoring 3 or higher, the requirement to earn nationally recognized college credit, a release from the Ascension Parish school system said.

“These results are a direct reflection of the diligent work by our teachers and school leaders to provide more access to rigorous curriculum and prepare our students to compete at a national collegiate level,” Superintendent Patrice Pujol said. “We made a concerted effort to expand our AP course offerings by partnering with the Louisiana Department of Education to send 21 teachers in 2014 and 15 teachers in 2015 to College Board’s Advanced Placement trainings. Those efforts have made a significant impact on our students.”

In 2012-13, 639 students took 746 AP exams, and 228 students scored 3 or higher on 268 AP exams. In 2014-15, 915 students took 1,039 AP exams, and 369 students scored 3-plus on 429 AP exams.

For the third year in a row, St. Amant High School had the largest participation, with 306 students taking AP exams, the release said.

“Our approach at St. Amant High has always been to allow any interested student to take honors and/or AP courses,” St. Amant Principal Mia Edwards said. “If they want it and are willing to work at it, we allow them to take the course. We know that students who are exposed to such a rigorous curriculum are better prepared when they begin their college coursework, and a huge portion of what we do in high school must be to make them college-ready.”

Donaldsonville High School had the largest student success growth over the past two years, with 350 percent more students scoring 3-plus on AP exams.

Principal Marvin Evans said students are valuing the AP course “offerings to prepare them to become college-ready and graduate with a quality diploma.”

“The participation and success rate provides evidence of our school mission,” he said. “We have provided incentives to students who are taking the exam to increase the participation rate. Throughout the school year, we focused on providing students with a rigorous curriculum. Furthermore, we challenged our teachers to write Student Learning Targets based on their AP classes to show that we value college readiness.”

Marvin said two freshmen scored 3-plus on the human geography AP test.

East Ascension High School had the largest single year of growth in both participation and success, with 158 percent more students taking AP exams and 229 percent more students scoring 3-plus.

“At EA, our desire is to challenge more students to meet the demands of a rigorous curriculum. We more than doubled the number of students taking AP courses from last year,” EAHS Principal Traci McCorkle said. “We will continue to challenge more and more students to meet the demands necessary to be successful in any postsecondary endeavor.”

Dutchtown High School maintained the largest success rate with 69 percent of its students scoring 3-plus on AP exams.

“We could not be more proud of the achievements of our AP students and teachers, but the entire DTHS family contributes to every Griffin’s success,” Dutchtown Principal Carli Francois said. “I am always in awe of the support we receive from our community. Our students come to us well prepared, our parents have high expectations, and our faculty and staff members find ways to push our students even further.”

Advanced Placement courses are advanced, rigorous college-level classes in a variety of subjects culminating in an exam that can earn a student college credit, the release said. The major difference between AP courses and dual-enrollment courses is the AP program is governed nationally by College Board while dual-enrollment programs are governed through local agreements with colleges and universities.

For information on AP courses and exams, visit apcentral.collegeboard.com/home.