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AP students, scores increase in Ky.

The number of Kentucky high school students taking Advanced Placement exams and the number of students scoring high are consistently rising, according to data released by the College Board on Tuesday.

In the past five years, the number of students taking AP exams is up more than 50 percent and the number of students earning high scores of 3, 4 or 5 has grown nearly 60 percent.

Kentucky education advocates and legislators have pushed for more rigor in education. In 2002, a law was passed requiring the development of a core AP curriculum. In 2005, the National Governors Association gave the state a $500,000 grant to improve AP performance.

Kentucky used the money to increase student and teacher preparation. Students eligible for free and reduced lunch also qualify for fee waivers to take the exams.

In Fayette County, the number of students taking tests increased 65 percent and the number of high scores increased nearly 60 percent in the past five years. The fee waivers helped get more students to take tests in the district, said Mike McKenzie, the district's high school director.

"We're getting more and more kids into these rigorous courses," said McKenzie. "When you have conversations about raising expectations, that's what this has done."

The college board also released PSAT and SAT scores, and Kentucky's average score in writing, verbal and math was higher than the national average. Kentucky students had an average writing score of 550, math score of 573 and verbal score of 566.

Nationally those averages were 494 for writing, 515 for math and 502 for verbal. All of these scores are on a scale of 200-800.

Nearly 1,200 fewer Kentucky sophomores and juniors took the PSAT this year than last year.