STATE CONTINUES INCREASE IN ADVANCED PLACEMENT NUMBERS; GRANTS IMPROVE ACCESS/INSTRUCTION IN LOW-WEALTH DISTRICTS
More North Carolina high school students are taking more Advanced Placement examinations than ever before and scoring at a higher grade level, according to a recent report from The College Board.
The number of students in North Carolina taking Advanced Placement (AP) and other rigorous courses at the high school level has steadily increased over the past five years. In 1998, almost 17,600 students took roughly 28,000 exams. In 2002, that number increased to 24,084 students taking 42,563 exams.
Although gratified to hear that the state's AP numbers are continuing to increase, State Superintendent Mike Ward remains concerned that equal access to these courses is not shared by all groups of students. "If we're to expect high student achievement from all of our students, it's important that all students have equal access to rigorous courses of study," Ward said. He added that, across the state, this hasn't necessarily been the case.
The Department of Public Instruction is addressing the access issue through two federal grants that increase the AP course offerings available to students in low wealth and rural districts, and increase the number of students in these districts who take advantage of them.
The first grant, an Advanced Placement Fee Reduction Grant in the amount of $119,000 annually for three years, pays a part of the fees for qualifying low-income students to take either AP or International Baccalaureate exams.
The second grant, an Advanced Placement Incentive grant in the amount of $306,000 annually for three years, serves several purposes, the first of which provides the following online AP courses to this year's students in 13 participating rural and low-wealth communities: Biology, Physics, Calculus AB, English Literature, English Composition, US History, Earth and Environmental Science, and Psychology.
The Advanced Placement Incentive Grant also prepares middle level teachers to teach more rigorous courses in middle school and to provide them with strategies to identify students with academic potential at an earlier level of school. In addition, the grant provides tuition assistance to help secondary teachers in targeted rural and low-wealth counties to obtain credentials so that they can teach AP courses in their school systems.
Wandra Polk, assistant director of Instructional Services for the Department of Public Instruction, said she was excited about the potential for these AP grants to level the playing field in regard to access to AP courses and exams. "It's important for our high school students to receive the same superior education no matter where they reside in the state. These courses will help ensure that when they enter college they will have a strong foundation for success."
For more information on North Carolina's Advanced Placement program, please contact Wandra Polk, assistant director of Instructional Services, DPI, 919.807.3816.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.