BISMARCK, N.D. — The head of North Dakota’s public school system says she wants one-quarter of the state’s students to enter college with at least a semester’s worth of credits under their belts.
North Dakota ranks last in the nation for participation in the Advanced Placement program, which offers college-level courses to high school students. Statewide, fewer than 2,000 students took AP exams last school year, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said $1.25 million in incentives for schools and students authorized by the 2015 Legislature should help boost those numbers.
Emily Hopfauf, a senior at Bismarck’s Century High School, takes several AP courses. She said she likes the insightful discussions with her classmates and the no-fluff assignments.
She also wants a jump-start on college, and she’ll receive college credit if she scores well in her exams. Those credits will likely go toward general education requirements and allow her to spend more time for the subjects she’s passionate about.
“If I don’t have to take them again, that leaves more leeway to take those cool classes,” Hopfauf said.
The state already has a robust dual credit program, offering courses in partnership with a local community college. But AP offers the benefit of credits that easily transfer to most out-of-state colleges, Baesler said.
The program is administered almost exclusively in urban school districts in North Dakota, and part of Baesler’s initiative aims to make the program more accessible to rural students.
Principals in cities large and small say they would like to offer AP, but the program can be costly.
Century Principal Steve Madler said teachers must travel out of state for a week of AP training before they can teach a class. Training is occasionally offered in Minneapolis, but Century teachers have flown as far as California and Delaware. Between airfare and hotel bills, it’s not uncommon for a district to shell out $3,000 for a single AP teacher’s training, he said.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
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