STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - MORNING EDITION - THURSDAY, FEB. 11, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

REPORT: MORE MASS. STUDENTS TAKING, SUCCEEDING ON AP EXAMS

More Massachusetts public high school students are taking Advanced Placement exams than ever before and their rate of success on the exams is also at its highest level, according to data released by the state on Tuesday. Almost 28 percent of public high school graduates in 2013 scored a 3 or higher - predictive of college success and graduation - on at least one AP exam during high school, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which sourced the information to College Board results. The exams, which analysts say provide a barometer for critical thinking skills, are also being taken by more Massachusetts students - the department reported that the number of graduates leaving high school having taken an AP exam increased from 13,051 in 2003, to 18,326 in 2008, to 22,808 in 2012, to 24,610 in 2013. Three states registered a higher percentage than Massachusetts of 2013 graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam - Maryland (29.6 percent), Connecticut (28.8 percent), and Virginia (28.3 percent). - M. Norton/SHNS

MASS. MEDIAN HOME SALE PRICE UP 14 PERCENT OVER JANUARY 2013

The number of single-family homes in Massachusetts placed under sales agreements during January was up 1.4 percent over January 2013, marking 11 consecutive months of year-over-year increases in so-called pending sales, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported Tuesday morning. There were 3,151 pending sales recorded in January, the most since 2007. The median sale price of a single-family home put under agreement in January was $320,000, up 14.3 percent from $280,000 in 2013. Surging condo prices were reflected in the January numbers, which showed the median condo price last month was $300,000, up 20 percent from $250,000 in 2013. "With demand still strong, homebuyers took advantage of dropping interest rates through the month to push pending homes sales higher in January," MAR President Peter Ruffini, regional vice president at Jack Conway & Co., said in a statement. "The combination of improved home equity and low interest rates have created a good opportunity for sellers to get back in the market. We're optimistic we'll see homeowners take the next step and list their property for sale." - M. Norton/SHNS