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Local AP test scores exceed state, national averages

BEMIDJI – The percentage of Minnesota high-schoolers who obtain passing scores on Advanced Placement tests exceeds the national percentage.

Even better, local graduates’ scores exceed state averages as well.

An AP test, usually taken at the conclusion of an AP course, offers college credit to test-takers who score a 3, 4 or 5.

Bemidji High School offers 12 AP courses. Last school year, 212 BHS students took 336 AP exams, scoring an average of 3.47, according to district data.

At TrekNorth high school, which offers seven to 10 AP courses a year, 41 students last year took 58 exams, of which 79 percent obtained a 3 or higher, according to the school. The average score was 3.3.

The state’s average score is 3.086 and, nationally, the average is 2.89.

Of the BHS students who took AP tests, 83.63 percent obtained at least one 3, according to the school district.

“Our scores keep rising,” said BHS Principal Brian Stefanich. “We’re generally in the 70-75 percent area. When we went over 80 this last year, that was pretty amazing.”

Deborah Carlson-Doom, a math teacher at TrekNorth, said TrekNorth students consistently perform well on AP exams. Prior to last year, students for three straight years scored averages of 3.4 on such exams.

“We’re able to really develop (students’) skill levels,” she said. “They experience a great amount of success here.”

The College Board, which administers the AP program, this week released its ninth annual AP Report to the Nation, which shows that an increasing number of Minnesota students are taking AP tests.

Of more than 56,000 statewide graduates in 2012, 16,780 reported having taken at least one AP exam. Of those, 11,067 obtained a passing score of 3 or better.

Ten years earlier, 8,926 graduates reported taking an exam, of which 5,631 scored a 3 or higher, according to the report.

“Several years ago, a call went out to Minnesota schools asking them to step up their efforts to ensure their students graduate college and (are) career ready,” said Brenda Cassellius, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, in a news release.

The Legislature provided resources and educators, she said.

“These new results show more students are taking advanced placement classes; even better, they are passing tests and earning credits,” she said. “We are seeing increased success for nearly all of our students, furthering our efforts to close achievement gaps and expand access to higher education opportunities.”