Record number of Louisiana students earn college credit through CLEP

More Louisiana students achieved scores earning them college credit on College Level Examination Program (CLEP®) exams last year than any other year, according to recently released data by the state Department of Education. CLEP, a credit-by-examination program, provides students with the opportunity to take introductory college-level classes and earn college credit.

“We are proud Louisiana is a national leader in CLEP,” said State Superintendent John White. “Not only are more students accessing opportunities for postsecondary success, but they are achieving credits toward their college degrees before even graduating high school. 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.”

Key highlights include the number of Louisiana high school students who earned college credit increased by 51 percent since last year and 558 percent since 2015, and who took CLEP tests increased by 52 percent since last year and 521 percent since 2015, making Louisiana a national leader.

Louisiana high school students also collectively earned more than 16,000 credit hours in 2019, saving at least $7.7 million according to department calculations, which it says is a modest estimate. “These amounts are likely much higher, as many of the American Council on Education’s recommended credit amounts for each subject are higher than 3 credits,” the department states.

2018-2019 CLEP data compares tests taken and passed from 2015-2019:

2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Tests Taken 2,916 6,441 8,787 11,886 18,102
Tests Passed 1,229 2,822 4,349 5,346 8,084

CLEP is one of several ways high school students can earn college course credit before graduation. Another is through Advanced Placement classes students take in high school that gives them equivalent college course credits in that subject depending on their grades. Dual enrollment is another, which allows students to enroll in a high school and a college to earn credit simultaneously.

The 2019 state Legislature created the Dual Enrollment Framework Task Force to study how high school students can simultaneously earn credits that apply to both their high school diploma requirements and graduation requisites at select postsecondary institutions in Louisiana.

It will submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Senate and House committees on education by October 2020.

The task force held its inaugural meeting July 24; its next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed said the task force is “actively collaborating … to expand opportunities for students to earn college credit before graduating from high school. Our message to students is no matter your zip code, no matter your race or place, Louisiana is ready to develop your talent so you can learn, earn, and prosper.”

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