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New program offers AP courses to rural ND students

FARGO—In the past two years, more than 3,800 North Dakota students have earned more than 10,500 hours of college credit, which represents about $3 million in tuition savings.

Now, a new program will allow even more high school students in the state—specifically those from rural areas—to take Advanced Placement courses next school year.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler announced Wednesday, March 14, that schools are encouraged to sign up for the Virtual College Readiness program, which offers AP courses in science, computer science, math and English.

The program is part of the National Math and Science Initiative, a nonprofit organization supported by ExxonMobil on behalf of XTO Energy Inc. and other companies to improve education and teacher training.

Through the program, students can take courses for free, and they get a $100 bonus if they score well on a proficiency test at the end. Thirteen North Dakota high schools in Arthur, Bismarck, Devils Lake, Fargo, Grand Forks, Mandan, Minot and West Fargo currently take part in the program, which is taught by instructors in those schools.

Baesler said under the new virtual program, classes will be available online at any North Dakota high school that wants to sign up. The courses are taught remotely rather than by instructors physically in the schools. NMSI will provide instructors, course supplies, study mentors and other assistance.

Any North Dakota high school student is eligible to take at least one AP test at no charge during high school, as well as up to three additional exams at half price. Students from low-income families may take up to four AP exams without paying the normal exam fee, which is about $90.

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