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Baesler Announces New Student Opportunities In Math, Science Program Expands Availability of Advanced Placement Courses Strengthens College Preparation, Saves Tuition Costs

MINOT, N.D., Aug. 23, 2018— State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler says an expanded academic partnership is giving North Dakota students new opportunities this fall to take advanced classes in math, science, and English, and to earn college credit in the process.

The National Math and Science Initiative partnership, which is called the Blended College Readiness Program, is being offered free of charge to any high school that requests it. Thirteen high schools have students enrolled this fall. They will take courses that are taught remotely by specially trained teachers.

Baesler said any North Dakota high school could join the program. North Dakota is the first state in which it is being offered. North Dakota’s example may be used to offer the Blended College Readiness program across the country, Baesler said.

Blended CRP can help high school students earn college credit, which will help them graduate more quickly and save tuition expenses, Baesler said. During the history of NMSI’s programs in North Dakota, high school students have earned the equivalent of 17,658 college credits, which represent tuition savings of more than $6 million, Baesler said.

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

The superintendent spoke Thursday at a news conference at Nedrose High School, about five miles east of Minot. Nedrose is one of 13 North Dakota high schools that have students enrolled in the Blended CRP program for the 2018-19 school year. Baesler was joined by two Nedrose students, 10th grader Megan Sutter and 12th grader Mindee Boyce, who are taking classes in the program.

The Blended College Readiness Program is being offered by the National Math and Science Initiative, a nonprofit based in Dallas that supports science, technology, engineering and math education across the country in grades 3-12.

In North Dakota alone, NMSI supporter XTO Energy Inc. has committed $13 million to strengthen math, science and English education by promoting advanced coursework and offering summer professional development programs for teachers. XTO Energy is a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp.

Nedrose High School Principal Matthew Norby; Michelle Stie, NMSI vice president for teaching and learning; and Don Larson, a Bismarck-based consultant for XTO Energy, spoke at Thursday’s Nedrose High School event along with Baesler, Sutter and Boyce.

“We appreciate ExxonMobil and XTO Energy’s support of our programs, and we’re excited to work with even more North Dakota schools, teachers and students to expand access to these critical courses,” Stie said.
NMSI first began offering support for Advanced Placement courses -- including teacher training, lesson plans, study sessions, student financial awards and other resources -- at five North Dakota high schools during the 2016-17 school year.

Students at Bismarck’s Century and Legacy high schools, Sheyenne High in West Fargo, Minot’s Magic City campus, and Fargo North High School took Advanced Placement courses that were taught by teachers in the buildings themselves. Since then, another 11 schools have joined the nonprofit’s traditional College Readiness Program.

This year, NMSI and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction have launched the Blended CRP at Nedrose and 12 other high schools across North Dakota. Students at the schools indicated interest in the program last spring.

Baesler said students at other high schools where the program is not offered should contact her office, or an administrator at their school, to ask about getting it.

Blended CRP is different from the original program in that classes are taught virtually. Even though the teachers are not present in the classroom, they are actively involved in facilitating learning, Baesler said.

In all, the original and blended CRP programs now have 29 participating high schools. In 16 schools, the Advanced Placement courses are taught by a teacher in person. Thirteen high schools are starting the blended program this year. NDDPI hopes to eventually see every high school offer the NMSI-supported classes, Baesler said.

NMSI offers the traditional and blended CRP courses to schools at no cost, with teacher training, coaching and classroom and laboratory materials. In addition to their classes, students have access to study sessions led by expert teachers.

Students who complete the Advanced Placement courses and get a score of 3 or greater on the course’s AP exam receive a $100 award from NMSI. NMSI data show that students who have taken part in the traditional College Readiness Program are much more successful at obtaining a qualifying score.

The state Legislature has provided support that allows any North Dakota high school student to take an Advanced Placement exam at no cost, and subsequent exams at discounted rates. Students from low-income families are eligible to take up to four AP exams during their high school careers at no charge.

The 16 College Readiness Program high schools -- where AP courses are taught by a teacher in person – are: Bismarck High, Bismarck Century, Bismarck Legacy, Turtle Mountain Community High School in Belcourt, Devils Lake High, Fargo North, Fargo South, Grand Forks Central, Grand Forks Red River, Mandan High, Minot Magic City Campus, Northern Cass, Watford City, West Fargo High, West Fargo Sheyenne, and Williston.

The 13 high schools that have begun the Blended CRP program are: Enderlin, Ellendale, Hebron, Kulm, Larimore, Linton, Litchville-Marion, Wilton, Montpelier, Nedrose, Richland Jr/Sr High, Rolette. and Trenton.