AP enrollment jumps by 85 percent in 5 Houston high schools

alopez@macon.comMarch 27, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Jazmyne Addison, a ninth-grader at Warner Robins High School, attended a presentation with her mother last week about Advanced Placement classes in Houston County.

Addison plans to take AP psychology her sophomore year. Dale Fleury applauded her decision but pushed for her to start planning for junior and senior year, suggesting AP environmental science and AP chemistry.

Fleury is a manager for the National Math and Science Initiative financial grant that will pump more than $2.8 million over three years into five Houston County high schools to help increase student enrollment and achievement in math, science and English AP classes.

In its first year, the grant has helped to increase enrollment in math, science and English AP courses at the five schools by almost 85 percent, from 890 students last year to 1,642 students, according to Fleury’s presentation.

The grant money at each school goes toward teacher training, equipment, materials and cash incentives for students. This year, students at Northside, Houston County, Warner Robins, Perry and Veterans high schools will earn a $100 cash incentive every time they earn a qualifying score of 3 or higher on an end of course standardized AP exam. Their teachers will also earn $100 for each qualifying score.

Students take their AP exams in May and find out how they scored in July.

This year, Howard High School in Macon will complete its third year with a National Math and Science Initiative grant.

“They exceeded their third year goal,” Fleury said of the Howard High program. “They had some unbelievable scores. And the same thing is going to happen here.”

The goal for the program is for the number of qualifying scores in math, science and English in the five Houston schools to jump from 410 last year to 787 in July.

The grant will be helping an already successful program. Last month, the state recognized Houston County, Northside, Veterans and Warner Robins high schools for their AP course offerings and exam scores last year.

Still, as is the case in many districts across the country, black and Hispanic students are not proportionally represented in AP math and science classes.

Though more than 42 percent of Houston County’s students were black and Hispanic in 2011-12, only 15.6 percent of students taking AP math classes were from those ethnic groups, according to data from the U.S. Office of Civil Rights. Only 16.9 percent of students taking AP science classes were black or Hispanic.

It is the mission of both the National Math and Science Initiative and Houston County schools to bridge this gap and provide equity and access to all students, Fleury said. For that reason, part of teacher training provided by the grant for Houston County includes strategies for identifying and working with students who have never considered taking an AP class before.

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 256-9751.

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