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Expanding Academic Options for Rural Students

Young woman with notebook
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Students at Nedrose High School in rural North Dakota have been asking for years for the opportunity to take more rigorous coursework. But there are simply no funds available for the school to hire a full-time advanced placement (AP) teacher.

Fortunately, Nedrose High recently became one of 13 high schools in the state to take part in the Blended College Readiness Program this year. The program allows students to attend online classes that are traditionally more available at larger high schools. NMSI hopes to use the program as a model for expanding to other states.

The program, available to 100 students through the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) partnership, is offered free to any high school in the state that requests it. It provides online AP classes in calculus, biology, statistics and English. Nedrose sophomore Megan Sutter and senior Mindee Boyce are both participating in the program, taking AP biology. Sutter says she likes the class because it lets students work at their own pace. Boyce, who hopes to pursue a career in agronomy, signed up for the course as soon as she heard it was available.

Thanks to funding from the North Dakota State Legislature, each North Dakota high school student can take one AP exam free of charge, or up to four exams free if the student is from a low income family. Students who pass an AP exam have the opportunity to earn college credit, saving money on future college tuition. Students who complete the courses and earn a 3 or higher on each course’s AP exam will also receive a $100 award from the NMSI.

Sixteen other North Dakota high schools take part in the College Readiness Program, with AP classes taught by a teacher in person.

Superintendent of public instruction Kirstin Baesler says, “It is more difficult for our rural North Dakota schools to offer advanced classes, particularly in math and science. This helps to close our ‘opportunity gap,’ and expand the academic options available for our rural students”

Author: Lynda Bradley

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