HELENA – A record number of Montana students took Advanced Placement exams in 2011, according to a new report by the College Board. In 2011, 2,784 Montana students took AP exams, up 4 percent from 2010.

Since 2007, Montana’s AP participation rate has increased by 22.3 percent, and the number of students demonstrating college-level mastery on AP exams increased by 20.3 percent.

“The gains that Montana students have made in terms of AP participation and success is another sign of our state’s commitment to preparing students for college and careers,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. Juneau has been pushing an initiative called Graduation Matters Montana, in which she encourages school and communities to help students graduate high school ready for college or careers.

Juneau wants more students to take advantage of AP courses through the Montana Digital Academy, which currently offers seven such courses. Sixty students are enrolled in AP courses this semester through MDA.

Participation and success in AP courses prepares students for college success and makes them more likely to earn a bachelors degree in four years, according to the Office of Public Instruction. It also helps offset college costs and qualifies students for scholarships.