Baesler: Program offers advanced classes in rural ND schools

State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler says many students in rural North Dakota high schools will have new opportunities to take advanced classes in the next school year, according to a press release from her office.

North Dakota schools are being asked to sign up for the “Virtual College Readiness” program. It offers online Advanced Placement courses in science, computer science, math and English. Students can take the courses for free, and they get a $100 bonus if they score well on a proficiency test at the end of the course.

Advanced Placement courses give North Dakota students an opportunity to earn college credit while they are still in high school. In the last two years, more than 3,800 North Dakota students have earned more than 10,500 hours of AP college credit, which represent more than $3 million in tuition savings.

The Virtual College Readiness program is part of the National Math and Science Initiative, a nonprofit organization that is supported by ExxonMobil, on behalf of XTO Energy Inc., and other companies to improve education and teacher training. NMSI has established public/private partnerships with North Dakota and more than 25 other states.

Thirteen North Dakota high schools in Arthur, Bismarck, Devils Lake, Fargo, Grand Forks, Mandan, Minot and West Fargo already participate in NMSI’s College Readiness Program, which gives students the opportunity to take an array of Advanced Placement courses at no cost. The classes are taught by instructors in those schools.

Baesler said the new “Virtual College Readiness” program will make Advanced Placement classes available online at any North Dakota high school that wants to sign up. NMSI will provide instructors, course supplies, study mentors and other assistance. The courses are taught remotely, rather than by instructors who are physically present in the school.

Students and parents should contact their local school to find out if they have signed up for the program, Baesler said.

Thanks to support from the North Dakota Legislature and NMSI, any North Dakota high school student is eligible to take at least one Advanced Placement test at no charge during his or her high school career, and 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.

NMSI also offers a separate program to benefit North Dakota education, called Laying the Foundation, which offers intensive professional development programs for teachers in grades 3 through 12. This summer’s LTF Institute is being held June 11-14 at North High School in Fargo. Teachers who are interested may still register for the training.


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