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8 schools chosen for AP initiative

The National Math and Science Initiative  will work with eight CMSD high schools to increase the number of students who take and earn qualifying scores on Advanced Placement exams.

This fall, NMSI will bring its College Readiness Program to Cleveland Early College High School, the Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, the John Marshall School of Information Technology and James Ford Rhodes High School. The program will continue for three years.

In 2017, NMSI will start a separate three-year cycle with the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, Whitney M. Young, Garrett Morgan and Max S. Hayes.

The nonprofit was launched in 2007 to address a decline in the supply of students prepared for careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Donors such as Exxon Mobil and the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Michael and Susan Dell foundations have provided support.

“AP is one of the most powerful tools for preparing students for college and career,” said Gregg Fleisher, NMSI’s president. “We are thrilled to partner with the dedicated teachers and students in CMSD to help ensure all young people here can achieve the rewarding future they deserve.”

Since NMSI was founded, it has assisted more than 750 schools in 26 states. The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded the initiative $20 million to help 40 schools spanning Cleveland and nine other districts.

The program’s goal is to better prepare students for rigorous coursework and success in college and provide them with knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the modern workforce. Qualifying AP test scores can also earn students college credit.

The John Marshall School of Information Technology will launch its first two AP courses this fall with Computer Science Principles and Language for juniors. Offerings will expand the following year with Literature, Calculus BC, a Science elective and Computer Science A (focusing on the Java language).
John Marshall IT is one of three small schools that opened last fall at the John Marshall Campus with ninth- and 10th-graders. Students from all three of the small schools will have access to the AP curriculum as the options expand.

AP is the “highest bar we can set for ourselves,” said Chelsey Cook, principal of the IT school. She said the work may be a “wake-up call” and “culture shift” for the first AP students, numbering as many as 80, but she is confident that they will succeed and that the courses will catch on.

“If we give them the right supports and see them through, they will be able to help recruit the next group,” Cook said.

NMSI will send master teachers to work with District faculty at a four-day institute in the summer and two-day workshop in the fall. The sessions will deepen teachers’ grasp of content and showcase hands-on activities and model lessons that will grab and hold students’ attention. During the year, NMSI mentors will work with Cleveland teachers. 

“The mentoring program serves to help teachers gain a fresh perspective on their AP courses and pedagogy,” said Charlotte Carlisle, NMSI's vice president for College Readiness Program programs and operations. “Through this program component, the teacher and mentor interact and share techniques and strategies that support improved performance of students on AP exams.”

The initiative will conduct Saturday workshops for students as they prepare for AP tests in science, math and English, and NMSI will pay up to half of a student’s AP exam fee. Also, students will receive a $100 stipend for each qualifying score – at least 3 on a scale of up to 5 – and AP course teachers will receive $100 each time a student gets a qualifying score.

NMSI will help the District build a pipeline of AP and honors students through its Laying the Foundation program. A four-day summer workshop will show teachers in third through 12th grades strategies for increasing the rigor, relevance and depth of their instruction.

“NMSI’s Laying the Foundation program provides teachers with strategies for helping students master advanced concepts and skills in math, science, and English,” said Michelle Stie, NMSI’s vice president of content. “Our hands-on, interactive workshops allow teachers to expand their instructional toolbox so they focus on how to deliver their content most effectively.”
CMSD currently offers AP courses in 18 subjects spanning 18 high schools. AP enrollment totals more than 1,200.