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North Dakota students lead nation in AP exam pass rate increase

North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler speaks to reporters on Wednesday, April 2, 2019, concerning a "family engagement cabinet." Jack Dura / Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK - The pass rate for North Dakota students who took the Advanced Placement test jumped 55 percent over three years, the highest percentage increase in the nation, the state superintendent said.

Kirsten Baesler said the rise was spurred by the 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.

In 2018, North Dakota students got a passing score on 2,352 exams, up from 1,520 in 2016. The number of exams taken rose 77 percent during the same period, from 2,378 in 2016 to 4,208 in 2018, the state said.

The District of Columbia, with a 28 percent passing increase, was second, followed by Louisiana (27 percent), Hawaii (25 percent), Mississippi (21 percent), and Rhode Island (19 percent).

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. Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches may qualify for up to four free AP exams, which are normally $90.

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