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AP program success in Brainerd

Brainerd High School Advanced Placement (AP) students have been surpassing national and state averages in their test results since 2008.

Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo Monday told the Brainerd School Board that the district’s AP program is not for everyone, but it is one that the district is proud of that helps students. Razidlo said so many times school officials hear the same sentiment from former students who took AP courses — that the Brainerd AP students are far more prepared than other students in their college classes.

Brainerd High School (BHS) principal Andrea Rusk and BHS AP coordinator Alan Hewitt presented the board with a summary of the AP program from 2008 to present. The summary showed that a total of 325 students in ninth- through 12th-grade were enrolled in an AP class and 636 exams were taken in 2012. Of the 325 students, 248 students scored a 3 or higher on their exams, or 76.3 percent. The state average of students scoring a 3 or above is 66.3 percent and the national average is 61.5 percent. In 2011, there were 295 AP students who took 502 exams with 80.3 percent scoring a 3 or higher. The state average of students scoring a 3 or above is 65.8 percent and the national average was 60.2 percent.

A score of 3 or higher represents the score point that research finds predictive of college success and graduation.

Hewitt said Brainerd students surpassed a lot of the students in the metro schools, when looking at Brainerd’s population. Hewitt said it is not surprising that the state average is higher than the national average, as Minnesota is known as a high-achieving state.

Hewitt said that the district has been working on pulling students, teachers and parents together to teach the same the English curriculum, to prepare the students for AP classes and for college. Hewitt said the district does not want students to enroll in an AP class and then drop out because that causes scheduling problems and other issues.

The district’s work has resulted in seeing a jump in the number of 10th-graders taking AP English. In 2008, there were 130 students enrolled. Last school year there were 263 students enrolled in AP English and this upcoming school year, the number dropped a tab at 242 students.

Hewitt said the district’s AP program is providing the students with a foundation and about 80 percent of the students are going to enroll in an AP class.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at