A greater portion of the Class of 2013 took advanced-placement tests, compared with seniors graduating 10 years earlier, a gain indicating that more California students are taking rigorous high school classes, according to a report on AP achievement released Tuesday.

Of California's 2013 graduates, 40.6 percent took an AP exam, compared with 25.3 percent 10 years earlier. And 26.9 percent passed at least one AP exam, placing the state sixth in the nation. Maryland was first, with 29.6 percent of its Class of 2013 passing, or scoring a 3 or better on the 5-point grading system.

The College Board, the firm that administers the AP and college-entrance exams, honored 29 California school districts for expanding access to AP courses while increasing the passage rate. Among those recognized were the Diocese of San Jose, and the Alameda, Fremont, Milpitas, Pajaro Valley, San Lorenzo Valley and San Ramon Valley unified school districts.

The percentage of Latino students in the state taking AP exams last year increased to 38.3 percent of their class, a 10-point gain from 2003. The percentage of African-American students also increased, to 3.7 percent of their class from 3.2 percent.

-- Sharon Noguchi, staff



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