Baesler: ND Students Lead Nation In AP Exam Success

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office: 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557

BISMARCK, N.D., April 25, 2019 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the Advanced Placement test pass rate for North Dakota students jumped 55 percent over three years, the highest percentage increase in the nation. The AP test credits the students earned during those three years represent $4.41 million in potential college tuition savings.

Baesler said the rise was spurred by the North Dakota Legislature’s support of Advanced Placement test-takers that began in the spring of 2016, and by the efforts of the National Math and Science Initiative, which has encouraged AP instruction in North Dakota high schools since the 2016-17 school year.

Lawmakers have provided funds for any North Dakota high school student to take at least one AP exam in English, mathematics, science and computer science at no charge during their high school career. (Other subjects are not eligible for this subsidy.) Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals may qualify for as many as four free Advanced Placement exams. The normal exam fee is about $90.

In 2016, North Dakota students got a passing score of 3 or greater on 1,520 Advanced Placement exams. (The grading scale is 1 to 5, with 5 as the highest score.) In 2018, North Dakota students got a passing score on 2,352 exams, a 55 percent increase. The number of exams taken rose 77 percent during the same period, from 2,378 in 2016 to 4,208 in 2018.

For North Dakota students, the 2,352 successful Advanced Placement exam results in 2018 represent $1.76 million in potential tuition savings in that year alone.

During 2016-18, North Dakota students got a passing score on 5,876 exams, earning AP credits that are worth $4.41 million in college savings. This assumes each successful exam represents three credits, and uses the North Dakota University System’s average resident undergraduate tuition cost of $250.04 per credit.

North Dakota’s percentage increase of successful Advanced Placement results from 2016 to 2018 was the highest in the country. The District of Columbia, at 28 percent, was second, followed by Louisiana (27 percent), Hawaii (25 percent), Mississippi (21 percent), and Rhode Island (19 percent).

Baesler said students who successfully complete Advanced Placement courses while in high school are better prepared for post-secondary education, aside from the benefit of earning college credit at a substantial savings over normal tuition expenses.

Sixteen North Dakota high schools participate in the National Math and Science Initiative’s College Readiness Program, which began in North Dakota during the 2016-17 school year. Students at those schools take Advanced Placement courses that are taught by instructors at those schools. Students have enrolled in 3,152 courses in those schools during the current school year.

Last spring, NMSI began its Blended College Readiness program, which offers AP classes online at any North Dakota high school that wants to participate. Since its launch in March 2018, 72 students at 12 schools have used the program to take AP classes online. They are taught remotely by specially trained teachers.

The National Math and Science Initiative is a nonprofit organization, based in Dallas, that supports science, math and English education across the country in grades 3-12.

In North Dakota alone, NMSI supporter XTO Energy Inc., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp., has provided NMSI $13 million to strengthen math, science and English education, by promoting advanced coursework and funding NMSI’s summer professional development programs for teachers.