“This is an outstanding opportunity for the district to get the necessary training and get these programs in place,” said district spokesperson Kirk Lewis.
The AP examinations allow students to get a head start on their college-level work, improve writing skills and sharpen problem-solving techniques, as well as to develop the study habits necessary to master difficult course work. The exams are offered in 34 subjects and all tests are administered in May.
The district will receive a one-time gift of $10,000 as a “Laying the Foundation” guide for Pre-AP teachers in math, science, and English in grades six through 11.
The remainder of the grant funds will be distributed over a five-year period and include the following allotments per year: $128,000 for four training sessions for all Pre-AP and AP teachers; $433,000 for diagnostic tests every six weeks and end-of-course tests for all courses utilizing the “Laying the Foundation” guides to measure the progress of students and teachers; and a $10,000 award to both the top middle and high school.
Counselors and Pre-AP and AP teachers all have the opportunity to earn a $500 stipend, principals have the opportunity to earn a $3,000 bonus, students may receive $300 per exam passage, and teachers may receive $300 per exam passage as incentives set forth by the grant.
With additional funds each school is scheduled to receive $10,000 for equipment, half of the exam fee will be covered, three lead teachers are scheduled to receive a salary supplement, and at least three Saturday review sessions will be held for students prior to the exam.
PISD will supply appropriate teacher training and substitute instructors for required staff development days, pay for and provide training for the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, provide an additional $10,000 for equipment, and provide three half-teacher positions as lead instructors. The district’s fiscal responsibility totals $234,000 per year.
“Most of these things are already in our budget. The grant has added almost $1 million dollars to our budget. This is a very good thing for the district,” said Lewis.
The district has enjoyed a steady increase in the number of AP exams taken by pupils. In 2001, 327 exams were taken, while the number increased to 413 in 2002, and 448 in 2003. Last year 540 AP exams were taken by students in PISD.
“The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is proud to support the AP Strategies program because it seeks to increase participation and improve students’ success on AP exams,” said Janet Mountain, executive director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “Encouraging students to excel in Advanced Placement studies and exams will better prepare them for college-level course work. This desired result underscores the Foundation’s commitment to improving outcomes for children and increasing educational opportunities for underserved youth.”
Established in 1999 with a gift from Michael and Susan Dell, the foundation has an endowment of more than $1 billion. The foundation believes a child’s future begins with a healthy environment. A healthy environment includes access to educational opportunities and quality health care. In addition, safe and engaging after school programs, quality early childhood care services and primary needs such as food, clothing and environments that are free from abuse enable children to grow into successful and healthy adults. As parents and co-founders of the foundation, Michael and Susan Dell place the utmost importance on the health and education of children. Within its first five years, the Dell family’s foundation has committed more than $139 million to children’s and community initiatives.
For additional information about the foundation, please visit their Web site, www.msdf.org. For additional information about PISD, visit www.pasadenaisd.org.