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N.C. State Prep Program Improves Test Scores

A college preparatory program run by North Carolina State University has been linked to improved scores on college entrance exams for rural high school students, according to a recent story by WUNC, a public radio station in North Carolina.

The ASPIRE program, which was created in 2011 and is administered by the school's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, offers a 30-hour ACT class, an ACT study manual and several practices tests for rural students in more than 30 North Carolina counties. The program is intended to raise test scores for rural high students who may be interested in agriculture or life sciences degrees but typically score lower than their peers on college entrance exams. According to WUNC, the average SAT score for the top agricultural counties in the state is more than 75 points lower than the state average.

In the program's pilot year, ACT scores improved by an average of 3.5 points on a 36-point scale according to the university. A recent article in the school's newspaper, The Technician, reported that SAT scores for some participating students have increased by 120 points to 150 points.

During the past year, N.C. State has expanded efforts to recruit rural students, who nationwide are less likely to attend a four-year college compared to their nonrural peers.

In March, the university received a $3 million gift for a "Farm to Philanthropy" program to expand ASPIRE's reach and support a student transfer and mentorship program.  The "Farm to Philanthropy" program also provides tuition for up to five semesters of college for some students.

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