Two Maine schools invited to participate in AP STEM Access program

The College Board shared the following news release with the Maine DOE for publication.

AUGUSTA—Hampden Academy and Scarborough High School are among 800 schools across the country invited to participate in the AP STEM Access program, created to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and female high school students that participate in Advanced Placement® courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines.

A $5 million grant from Google as part of its Global Impact Awards to DonorsChoose.org will make it possible for this program to invite Hampden and Scarborough to start new AP STEM courses and encourage traditionally underrepresented minority and female students who demonstrate strong academic potential to enroll and explore these areas of study and related careers. 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. 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.”

Hampden and Scarborough were chosen for their status as public high schools with underrepresented students that were academically prepared for an AP STEM course not currently offered at the school. During the 2011-12 academic year, these two schools had 10 or more black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, 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 60 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 2012 PSAT/NMQST® (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). In addition, Hampden and Scarborough serve communities with a median household income of $100,000 or less, and/or 40 percent or more of its 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.

These Maine schools will 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. 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 at 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. The cards can be used by the teacher 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.

Hampden and Scarborough will begin their new AP subjects 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.

AP courses and exams offered 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 with the $5 million grant as part Google’s new Global Impact Awards, which provide support to 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.

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