More than 8,000 high school students in the past school year earned college credit through exams that measure college skills, up from 5,346 last year, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday morning.

The credits were achieved through the College Level Examination Program, or CLEP.

It allows students to demonstrate their mastery of college-level materials in introductory courses.

"Not only are more students accessing opportunities for post-secondary success but they are achieving credits toward their college degrees before even graduating high school," state Superintendent of Education John White said in a statement.

"At the same time they are shortening the time it takes to obtain a college degree, increasing the likelihood of their degree completion and saving millions of dollars in college costs," White said.

In 2014-15 a total of 1,229 students earned college credit through CLEP compared to 8,084 in the past school year.

Scores range from 20-80.

Students have to score at least 50 to qualify for college credit.

CLEP is one of three ways high school students can trim their time in college.

They can take Advanced Placement, or AP classes, and then earn credit if they score high enough on post-AP course exams.

Students can also use dual enrollment, which allows them to earn both high school and college credit.

The state has launched a study on how to expand access to dual enrollment classes.

Email Will Sentell at