The Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education reported a more than 10 percent increase in the number of Minnesota students taking Advanced Placement test.

The report also shows a nearly 13 percent increase in the number of students scoring a three or higher on their exams, which is the baseline score used by most colleges to award college credit.

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The AP program allows high school students to take college-level courses in high school. AP courses are accelerated versions of college courses, which often involve lecture-based, textbook-oriented material, and require heavy exam preparation.

"The increase in Advanced Placement test scores once again shows that as we raise academic expectations, Minnesota students will rise to the challenge," said Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren said in a press release.

TrekNorth Junior and Senior High School has been developing its AP curriculum for five years.

"We're particularly proud of the levels of success we've had in recent years," said Dan McKeon, director of TrekNorth.

McKeon said many of the students who take AP courses at TrekNorth are students whom other schools wouldn't have accepted.

According to McKeon, 78 percent of students who took an AP exam in 2009 scored a three or higher, a 20-point jump from 2008.

"Every student can and should take AP courses," said McKeon.

Bemidji Areas Schools District reported 193 students enrolled in AP courses in 2009. Of these, 280 AP tests were taken, which means some students took more than one test. Of these, 214 students received a score of three or higher on the exam.

"We've done really well with our AP program," said Kathy Palm, Bemidji School District director of curriculum and administrative services.

Last school year was the first year Bemidji High School offered two Pre-AP courses for freshmen to prepare them for the rigor of AP courses. Pre-AP courses are not prerequisites for AP courses, but students must be at a sophomore grade level or higher. This year 139 students have signed up.

"The enrollment of Native American students has doubled in one year in large part to the Pre-AP courses," said BHS principal Brian Stefanich.

BHS also offered AP statistics during the second semester session of the 2008-09 year. This year 25 students have enrolled in the two sections of AP statistics.

The continued increase in the number of students taking AP courses coincides with the implementation of the Get Ready Get Credit program proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The program was passed by legislature during the 2005 legislative session and encourages students to earn college credit while in high school through AP and other programs.