NEW YORK — The College Board is announcing the AP® STEM Access program, created to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and female high school students who participate in Advanced Placement Program® courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. A $5 million grant fromGoogle Google as part of its Global Impact Awards to DonorsChoose.org will make it possible for this program to invite over 800 public high schools across the country to start new AP math and science courses and to encourage traditionally underrepresented minority (black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native) and female students who demonstrate strong academic potential to enroll and explore these areas of study and related careers. The College Board is collaborating with DonorsChoose.org to work directly with AP teachers in qualifying schools to help them obtain the classroom resources and professional development they need to start new courses. The AP Program offers willing and academically prepared high school students the opportunity to study at the college level, enabling them to develop the critical thinking skills necessary for college success.
Traditionally underrepresented minority and female students in the U.S. are less likely to study math and science in college or pursue related careers than their counterparts. This is partly due to the fact that these students are not receiving adequate engagement in rigorous STEM course work during high school. For example, participation in AP course work in mathematics varies widely among students who have the same high academic potential to succeed on an AP mathematics exam. In 2011, only 3 in 10 black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students, and 2 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students participated in AP mathematics courses. Also in 2011, there were more male students than female students taking AP Exams in Calculus AB (52 percent male), Calculus BC (59 percent male), Chemistry (53 percent male), and there were a disproportionate number of males taking AP Exams in Computer Science A (81 percent male), Physics B (65 percent male); Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism (77 percent male) and Physics C: Mechanics (73 percent male). In many cases, students did not take AP math and science courses because they were not available at their schools. In other cases, the schools offered the courses, but minority and female students did not participate and the diversity of those classrooms frequently did not reflect the diversity of the school overall.
Research shows that students who took AP math and science were more likely than non-AP students to earn degrees in physical science, engineering and life science disciplines — the fields leading to some of the careers essential for America’s future prosperity. This correlation is particularly strong among African American, Hispanic/Latino and female students.
“Unfortunately, traditionally underrepresented minority students and female students often do not have access to AP STEM course work,” said David Coleman, president of the College Board. “We are very grateful to Google for its generous support and look forward to working with DonorsChoose.org to enable these students to engage in the sort of rigorous STEM course work that is essential for college and career success.”
Through the AP STEM Access program, more than 800 U.S. public schools are eligible to receive funding to start one or more new AP courses in STEM subject areas. These grants will be used by teachers for professional development and to acquire classroom materials, lab and technology equipment, college-level textbooks, and other resources imperative for a high-quality AP course. These grants will vary from $1,200 to $9,000, depending on the subject area of the new course. In addition, to support inclusivity and outreach to students in the participating schools, all AP STEM teachers who increase diversity in their classrooms in these schools will receive a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift card for each student who achieves a score of 3, 4 or 5 on an AP STEM exam. Teachers can use these gift cards to further invest in classroom resources — with the goal of driving student engagement and achievement in years to come. Well-resourced classrooms provide hands-on activities and engaging inquiry-based lab investigations that are essential to AP and can inspire students to excel in these fields.
Participating schools will start the new AP math and science courses in fall 2013 and will make a commitment to offer these new AP courses for a minimum of three years. This will enable the courses to become an integral part of the overall array of AP course offerings within the school.
The 800 public schools that qualify for this program were chosen because they have historically had a population of underrepresented students who were academically prepared for an AP STEM course that is not offered by the school. Specifically, in the 2010-11 academic year these schools had 10 or more African American, Hispanic/Latino, or American Indian/Alaska Native students — and/or 25 or more female students — with high potential to be successful in one or more AP STEM courses that were not offered in their school. For this criterion, high AP potential was defined as a 70 percent or higher likelihood of scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Exam as predicted by the student’s performance on specific sections of the PSAT/NMQST® (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.) In addition, these schools serve communities with a median household income of $100,000 or less, and/or 40 percent or more of their students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Research shows that the AP Program can provide a cost-effective way for high school students to earn college credit, advanced placement or both while still in high school, but these academically prepared minority and female students are not being given that opportunity. The grant from Google will help eliminate some of the obstacles that cause these inequities and will help these students access AP STEM courses for which they have been academically prepared to succeed.
The College Board will work with educators and legislators at the state, district and school levels to inform all teachers, counselors, parents and students at qualifying schools about this opportunity to expand access to AP STEM courses for traditionally underrepresented students and will provide them with implementation support throughout the program. AP courses and exams within the STEM disciplines include: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Computer Science A, Environmental Science, Physics B, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, Physics C: Mechanics, and Statistics.
The funding for this AP STEM Access program was awarded by Google to DonorsChoose.org as part of Google’s new Global Impact Awards, which support organizations using technology and innovative approaches to tackle some of the world’s toughest human challenges.
“There are hundreds of thousands of talented students in this country who are being left out of the STEM equation — they’re not being given the opportunity to find their passion or pursue today’s most promising careers,” said Jacquelline Fuller, director of giving at Google. “We’re focused on creating equal access to advanced math and science courses, and ensuring that advanced classrooms become as diverse as the schools themselves.”
DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. To date, 270,000 public and charter school teachers have used DonorsChoose.org to secure $112 million in books, art supplies, technology and other resources that their students need to learn.
“DonorsChoose.org is honored to be recognized by this groundbreaking award program that supports innovative organizations that are making a real difference,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. “The funds will open the door for bright, eager students and teachers who would otherwise be shut out of advanced learning and a promising career path.”
For more information and the full list of qualifying schools, visit www.collegeboard.org/apstem.
About the Advanced Placement Program®
The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both — while still in high school. Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments and see many sides of an issue — skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admission officers that students have sought the most rigorous curriculum available to them, and research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students. Each AP teacher’s syllabus is evaluated and approved by faculty from some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, and AP Exams are developed and scored by college faculty and experienced AP teachers. Most four-year colleges and universities in the United States grant credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of successful AP Exam scores — more than 3,600 institutions worldwide annually receive AP scores. In the last decade, participation in the AP Program has more than doubled and graduates succeeding on AP Exams have nearly doubled. In May 2012, 2.1 million students representing more than 18,000 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took 3.7 million AP Exams.
About the College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.org.
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