Providing resources to help students



One way to prepare and interest the next generation for careers in science, technology, engineering and math is by introducing these courses to students high school. The National Math and Science Initiative was created for this purpose. NMSI focuses on getting high school students to take Advanced Placement courses in high school. By providing resources and incentives, they hope that students will be more attracted to these more challenging classes.

“This organization (NMSI) is a non-profit organization. Funded partly by the department of defense. [They want] to get the best and the brightest in math and science and engineering,” Assistant Principal Jamie Lee said.

NMSI focuses their resources to help students succeed in Advanced Placement classes. AP classes have an end of the year exam that is managed by College Board, a non-profit organization that controls exams that lead to higher level education. AP exams for example, allow students to receive college credit if they pass with a score of three or higher, with the highest score being a five. They assist students to succeed both indirectly and directly.

First, hey provide resources such as teacher professional development classes which consists of training for AP teachers. They also provide the teachers materials through an online blackboard. These materials include worksheets, unit ideas and lab exercises. The point of these resources is to assist students with learning, as it gives students access to problems and strategies that they cannot be found elsewhere according to Lee.

The resources focused directly toward the students are study sessions and rewards for passing AP exams. Study sessions are used to help students prepare for the end of the year exam for their AP class. They are held weekends in which a teacher is provided by NMSI to teach students materials that they will need to be successful on their AP test. The second resource provided to students is a money reward.  Students are encouraged to pass their AP test with a $100 reward that they might receive if they score a three or higher on their exam.

“The cognitive load is pretty heavy… you have a lot of work to do… it is much closer to the work that you do for college,”  AP Language and Composition teacher Lance Keller said.

With AP classes being formatted like college level classes, they are more difficult than regular classes. NMSI sets a goal for the school to increase their AP pass rates. This is a goal such as having five more students pass the exam from the previous year according to Lee. The purpose of this is to try and increase the pass rates overtime, allowing students to gain a qualified score that gives that student college credit.

“Maybe you weren’t thinking of trying AP Computer Science, but now that you know you might be able to earn 100 bucks. Maybe you are going to be willing to at least try it,”  Lee said.

NMSI has a made a three year commitment to operate with the school, according to Lee. Even after the contract ends, the school must make a sustainability in order to maintain the quality of AP coursework. Although NMSI focuses on getting more students into STEM related majors, it is encouraged that students challenge themselves with these classes while the support is here, according to Lee.

“Kids that take college prep classes are ready for college but AP will find that their AP classes will prepare them really quite well,” said Keller.