A record-breaking number of Louisiana students are earning college credit during high school through College Level Examination Program exams, according to data recently released by the Louisiana Department of Education.

More than 18,100 exams were administered in Louisiana this year, ranking the state first in the nation for number of exams taken, according to College Board.

“We are proud Louisiana is a national leader in CLEP,” John White, LDOE superintendent, said in a news release. “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.”

More and more students are taking advantage of the money-saving opportunities afforded through CLEP exams each year as the percentage of credits earned increased 51 percent from the 2017-2018 term. With more than 16,000 credits earned statewide in 2018-2019, families saved an estimated $7.7 million in future college tuition.

In Calcasieu Parish, 677 students earned 1,560 college credit hours through CLEP testing administered at the Lake Charles-Boston Academy of Learning, according to Holly Holland, CPSB spokesperson.

According to the College Board’s 2018 “Trends in College Pricing” report, at a national average of $318 per college credit, area students saved nearly half a million dollars towards their future college education.

LCBA Principal Beth Fraser said the financial savings are a large driving force in students, parents and counselors taking advantage of CLEP exams.

“If they already know the information, of course they’re looking for a way to shorten their stay in college and go ahead and get onto the next thing that they need to take. Furthermore, some students feel like they have a masters or doctorate they’re looking at and they’re trying to shorten that time in school as well.”

CLEP examination costs $89 for the 90-minute exam. Students pay out of pocket, through school Title funds or with vouchers through Modern State, a test preparation provider, Fraser said.

“Without a doubt this is the cheapest, fastest, easiest way to earn college credit. You sit for 90 minutes. You can’t finish a semester any faster than 90 minutes, any cheaper than $89 and any easier than taking one test.”

While Calcasieu students are testing across all disciplines, Fraser said they are “overwhelmingly” earning credit in the College Composition Modular exam, the equivalent of an English 101 course. English as a second language students are excelling in their native language, she added, “easily earning 12 hours credit.”

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