'Dramatic' gains seen in AP training, incentive program, official says

Posted: September 10, 2012 at 9:39 a.m.

Tommie Sue Anthony, president of the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science, speaks to the Arkansas Board of Education Monday.

— A program aimed at increasing the number of students taking and scoring highly on Advanced Placement classes has resulted in "dramatic increases," an official said Monday at the monthly Arkansas Board of Education meeting.

Tommie Sue Anthony, president of the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science, said the Exxon Mobil-funded program was implemented in 39 schools in 35 school districts in the 2011-2012 school year, helping place more than 10,200 students in AP math, science and English classes.

The schools were brought into the program in four clusters over the past four years, and each has seen substantive gains in their varying participation times.

Anthony said the program schools on average saw a 62 percent increase in students taking an AP exam and a 56 percent increase in qualifying scores in the first year alone.

In 2012, the 39 schools in the initiative accounted for 41 percent of all students taking an AP math, science or English exam and 43 percent of all qualifying scores.

"[That's] 14 percent of the schools doing this," Anthony said. "... I think it's pretty exciting and also pretty telling that our 39 schools produced more scores than the entire state did in 2006 in math, science and English."

Anthony said she couldn't provide a figure for how much it would cost to extend the program to all schools, though she noted it would require hiring "a lot more people." The five-year Exxon Mobil grant totaled $13.2 million.

Students who earn qualifying scores on AP tests can receive college credit, and the program also offered the incentive of $100 gift cards for the good results.