BISMARCK, N.D., May 22, 2017 – School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said a Department of Public Instruction initiative that was supported by the Legislature has dramatically increased the number of North Dakota high school students who are doing advanced coursework.
Students who elected to take Advanced Placement exams in a variety of subjects recently finished their testing for the school year. Baesler said North Dakota students took an estimated 3,590 Advanced Placement exams, a 31 percent increase from 2016.
Baesler estimated about 2,500 students took an Advanced Placement exam this year, based on comparisons from previous years of the number of tests taken to the number of students who took them. That would represent a 32 percent increase in the number of students who sat for at least one AP exam this year.
During the 2015 Legislature, Baesler successfully advocated her “Leveraging the Senior Year” initiative to strengthen the preparation of North Dakota high school seniors for the life choices they will make after graduation.
Leveraging the Senior Year offered any North Dakota high school senior, including those in nonpublic schools or home-school settings, the opportunity to take at least one Advanced Placement exam in English, mathematics, science or computer science at no cost.
Under Baesler’s initiative, students from low-income families may take up to four AP exams in those subjects for free. Other students may take one exam at no cost, and get a 50 percent discount on as many as three additional tests. Advanced Placement tests normally cost about $96 each.
“We want to prepare our North Dakota students to be choice ready when they graduate from high school,” Baesler said. “That means they are ready to take on whatever career path they choose, whether it is going to college, pursuing career and technical training, going directly into the workforce, or joining the military.”
After Baesler announced the availability of the test subsidies in March 2016, the number of students taking at least one AP exam jumped 7 percent, to 1,894 students. The number of tests taken rose to 2,746, an increase of 13 percent.
The Legislature continued to support “Leveraging the Senior Year” during the 2017-2019 session. “Even during difficult budget times, our lawmakers saw that Leveraging the Senior Year is an excellent investment in the future of our young people,” Baesler said. “This will strengthen the preparation of our students for life after high school. And if a student chooses to go to college, AP tests translate into college credit, which means students and their families will save on tuition costs, take on less debt, and be on track to graduate more quickly.”