Nearly half the students who took Advanced Placement exams this year scored between a 3 and a 5, the state Department of Education announced today. That represents a 6.2 percent increase over 2007. The department also said more students took the exams in 2008 than in 2007.

“These numbers tell us that many of the initiatives in place in Arkansas for several years are working,” said Dr. Jim Purcell, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said in a press release.

Mean critical reading scores on the SAT dropped by 3 points to 575; nationally the drop was one point to 479.

The press release is on the jump.