BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The number of North Dakota students who took Advanced Placement classes and earned qualifying scores increased in the 2016-17 school year by 36 percent.

At the 2017 Fall Educators Conference, North Dakota Superintendent Kirsten Baesler attributed the rise in AP scores in math, science and English to a partnership between the state and the National Math and Science Initiative.

The NMSI is a Dallas nonprofit that aims to increase the number of students who take AP exams by hosting programs in schools across the country with low AP exam rates, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The nonprofit's partnership with the state began two years ago with a $13 million investment from an ExxonMobil subsidiary, XTO Energy.

Gov. Doug Burgum praised the partnership with NMSI and ExxonMobil and said he hopes they can continue the momentum.

The nonprofit's programs provide classroom equipment, teacher training and study sessions for students and teachers leading up to an exam. It also pays $100 to the students who pass and provides an incentive to teachers.

The programs have yielded students earning qualifying scores on 3,853 AP exams that gave them college credit, Baesler said.

"At average cost of $300 per credit, this has saved North Dakota students and their families $3.5 million in tuition," she said.

Century High School and Legacy High School in Bismarck, Fargo North High School, Magic City Campus High School in Minot and West Fargo Sheyenne High School participated in NMSI's College Readiness program for the 2016-17 school year

Bismarck High School, Devils Lake High School and Mandan High School are among the schools that will continue NMSI's three-year College Readiness program for the 2017-18 school year.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com