N.D. sees vast improvement in Advanced Placement testing

BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota is the most improved state in passing Advanced Placement exams.

North Dakota received a hefty donation from an oil company, which has made college readiness much more achievable.

Hands down is the highest percent increase across all 50 states. Thirty six percent. That's how many more students are passing Advanced Placement tests in math, science and english across North Dakota and earning college credit for it.

This is due to the $13 million donation from Exxon Mobil. But why invest in the Peace Garden state?

“The ruralness of North Dakota, our smaller class sizes, our smaller districts. That was really a unique feature that NMSI would figure out how to scale it up in North Dakota and then replicate it across the United States,” said Ann Ellefson, director of the Office of Academic Support

The money has paid for training educators to teach these advanced courses, and pay them for working extra hours.

“The past two years with these programs have yielded students earning qualifying scores on 3,853 exams that gave them college credit,” said State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

Not to mention the $100 check each student was awarded for passing those exams. That's nearly $400,000 distributed. Students say that taking the AP courses makes them feel better prepared for college.

“It's comforting knowing that if I can pass the AP test then I have a lot of confidence going on into college and taking more rigorous courses also,” said Lilly Keplin, junior at Century High School.

And of course, the students are saving serious money in the long run. The average cost per college credit hour is $594; the cost of one AP exam is just 94.

The state superintendent says the goal for next year is to bring the program to more rural schools, so that even students in isolated communities have the same opportunity.