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Massachusetts students receive top ranking for achievement and participation in AP classes

Durfee High School juniors Olivia DeMello, Eshal Zahra, Rebecca Bento De Souza, and Mya Hayes-Paulette carried a greeting sign following a group photo during AP Day at the Massachusetts State House. Massachusetts was recognized as first in the nation for achievement and participating in advanced high school classes. Students and staff from 26 schools were also honored.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science senior Feodora Etelier hopes to become a surgeon.

As the daughter of Haitian immigrants, Etelier said the key to her dream is access to education. So the 17-year-old has worked to take multiple Advanced Placement, or AP, courses, as a way to put her ahead in college.

“Boston is a lot of low income people of color, so I feel like we have to work twice as hard to get half as far in a sense,” Etelier said. “I wanted to ... challenge myself in a way that I know I can handle.”


Etelier is among a growing number of students of color who are enrolling in the more rigorous classes. State education leaders announced during a Wednesday event at the State House that Massachusetts has seen double digit gains among the number of Black and Latino students enrolled in AP courses. The 10.2 percentage point increase to 31.1 percent among Black students and a 16.2 percentage point increase from 2012 to 2022 to 35.9 percent for Latinos places Massachusetts among the top 10 states for making the largest gains in the last decade among those student groups taking the exams.

They also announced Massachusetts was ranked first in the country for a second consecutive year for graduating high school students who passed their AP exams, which translates into college credit for their courses, according to data released by the College Board.

“We always believed that if we were to create a level playing field, we could do that simply by providing access,” said Jeff Riley, state education commissioner. “We are again first in the country... but more important than that, we’re having huge gains in our access for Black and Latino students.”

The College Board provides AP courses in 38 subjects, and over 90 percent of schools in the Commonwealth offers at least one AP course. Students enrolled in AP classes have an end-of-year exam they can take that gives them college credit for the course if they achieve a minimum score of 3.


Last year, 30.5 percent of Massachusetts graduating seniors scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam, which is a 5.8 percent increase from the outcomes in 2012. Nationally, 21.6 percent of the high school graduates who took an AP exam last year scored a 3 or higher.

More than 200 educators and students were in attendance during the Wednesday event where the state officials touted their accomplishments. They also recognized 26 schools throughout the state that have made efforts to increase access to AP exams for students of color. Of the schools recognized, six saw at least a 30 percent increase over five years among Black, Latino and/or low-income test takers. These schools include: Attleboro High School, Durfee High School in Fall River, John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science in Boston, Lawrence High School, Lynn Classical High School, and Worcester Technical High School.

Adria Watson can be reached at Follow her @adriarwatson.