Governor JB Pritzker Receives Policymaker Award for Expanding Access to AP in Illinois

On September 15, the College Board presented Illinois Governor JB Pritzker with the Outstanding Policymaker Award for his leadership and commitment to providing access to Advanced Placement (AP) opportunities for students across the state. Governor Pritzker was the first Illinois governor to include funding in the state budget for low-income students’ AP Exam fees. He also acknowledged the dedication of AP students and teachers in his budget addresses before the legislature in both 2019 and 2020.

“Governor Pritzker has recognized the value of AP and making student access a priority,” said College Board CEO David Coleman. “When states prioritize increasing access to AP coursework and exams, more students from all backgrounds succeed.”

In 2019, Illinois had the largest one-year increase in the country in the percentage of public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam. While Illinois saw a slight decrease in the number of students participating in AP Exams in 2020 due to the pandemic, the same number of students benefitted from the fee reduction and low-income funding from the state. The opportunity to earn college credit for exam scores of 3 or higher is a key benefit of AP. Students can save time and money and get a head start on completing their degree with credits earned from their college-level AP work.

Several former AP students, including Loyola University student Alex Gamiño, personally thanked Governor Pritzker for the support he and state policymakers have given to the AP program that has helped set them up to succeed in college. Gamiño was able to take nine AP courses while attending Addison Trail High School in Addison, IL, and credits “this community of teachers, leaders, and learners” for helping build his confidence and put him on a path to a career in education.

Addison Trail AP Italian teacher Judie Vitiritti-Lynch conveyed how critical AP funding is to families at her school. “Thank you, Governor Pritzker, for providing for a program that I believe in and that I know is working,” she said.

Alexander Kmicikewycz, who’s currently the resident principal at Kelly High School in Chicago and has experience as an AP teacher, believes that the success of AP students in Illinois shows what’s possible when school districts, teachers, and policymakers commit to working together.

"I would like to offer my thanks to the College Board for recognizing the strides Illinois has made in expanding AP access to all students, regardless of the community they live in," said Governor Pritzker. "I've made it a priority for Illinois to invest in and expand access to Advanced Placement, especially for low-income students. AP classes help students prepare for the rigors of college coursework, and we will continue to build on our investments to help even more students from every part of the state succeed."