BPS expanding Advanced Placement with $2.4m federal grant
BOSTON – Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson, teachers, staff, students, and key partners today to announce a $2.4 million grant to expand Advanced Placement (AP) opportunities to students throughout the district. In an event at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, City and school officials highlighted the progress BPS has made in expanding AP and some of the partnerships that are helping to prepare BPS graduates for college and career success.
Boston is one of only 20 local educational agencies nationwide to receive funding through a $14 million program from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant will support work in three broad areas: (1) Access – expand the number and diversity of students taking AP courses; (2) Retention – increase number of students who stay in AP courses; and (3) Achievement – increase number of students who get a score of 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams.
“Giving students an opportunity to tackle challenging college-level material, including AP courses, in high school is a critical to making sure our students get ready, get in and get through college,” said Mayor Menino. “In my 2008 State of the City Address, I called on Superintendent Johnson to double the number of Advanced Placement classes in the next five years, and while we have made progress, this additional support will move us even closer to our goal.”
The Advanced Placement Incentive Program (APIP) grant will support AP and pre-AP expansion in 32 Boston public high schools and 14 Boston public middle/K-8 schools. The funding will support materials, tutoring for students, training for teachers, as well as district-wide work to make sure preparatory courses in the middle grades are aligned with high school AP offerings so that students enter high school prepared for success with AP.
“We want to introduce all of our high school students to some college-level work to prepare them for the academic rigor of higher education,” said Dr. Johnson. “We are proud of the progress in recent years to expand AP beyond the exam schools, ensuring that every public high school in the City of Boston offers these challenging courses.”
Dr. Johnson noted that October is College Month in the Boston Public Schools, with numerous events and activities to encourage students in pre-school through high school to prepare for higher education. BPS alumni from 16 area colleges were present at the AP event, representing their colleges and universities by wearing their college apparel.
The Mayor and Superintendent were joined by several key partners, including Morton Orlov II, President of the Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative (MMSI) at the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute. MMSI is designed to expand AP math, science and English participation, especially for low-income and minority students. The initiative was successfully launched last year at 10 schools throughout Massachusetts, including the John D. O’Bryant Math and Science School in Roxbury, and now operates in 21 high schools statewide.
“On behalf of MMSI, I applaud Mayor Menino and Superintendent Johnson for their commitment to preparing more Boston Public Schools students for college and career success,” said Orlov. “The early results from MMSI’s partnership with the O’Bryant proves that, when given the proper resources and support, Boston’s students and teachers can thrive with the rigorous, college-level curriculum of the Advanced Placement program.”
The grant will build on the progress Boston has made recently in expanding both student enrollment, particularly of students at district (non-exam) high schools, and the number of AP courses offered district wide. Highlights include the following:
· The number of BPS juniors and seniors enrolled in Advanced Placement has grown from 1,582 students five years ago to 2,304 today – a 46% increase.
· In school year 2004-2005, BPS offered a total of 99 AP classes. Today, BPS offers 136 AP classes – a 37% increase. The increase among non-exam schools is 67%.
· BPS now offers AP courses in 28 subject areas.
Christos Zahopoulos, Executive Director of Northeastern University’s Center for STEM Education, spoke about the role of the Boston Science Partnership in supporting Advanced Placement achievement. Other speakers included Michelle Boyle, who teaches AP English at The English High School; Bruno Piazzarolo, a graduate of the O’Bryant now at MIT, and Nigel Robinson, a senior at the O’Bryant.
As part of the Acceleration Agenda for the Boston Public Schools, Dr. Johnson established a goal of 100% of students taking at least one AP, Honors or dual enrollment course in high school. In addition to providing a rigorous college-level curriculum, AP courses also offer the opportunity for students to earn college credit and/or advanced placement in college if they earn a passing grade on an AP exam. Over the past two school years and summers, BPS has trained 281 teachers, headmasters and guidance counselors in Advanced Placement instruction and placement through the College Board Institute.
PHOTO: Superintendent Carol R. Johnson with Bruno Piazzarolo, a graduate of the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science, now a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).