Improving Math and Science in Alabama

There was recently an article about Exxon Mobile providing a grant to help Alabama students improve their performance in math and science. It sounds like they have had great results. I am curious as to what the training looks like, and if there are teacher or student financial incentives built-in.

Here’s the article from stockwatch.com:

Students in 12 Alabama high schools achieved an 81 percent increase in passing scores on Advanced Placement math, science and English tests under a national education program funded by ExxonMobil. The schools located in Jefferson County and Montgomery are participating in the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Programs supported by the National Math and Science Initiative. ExxonMobil is a founding sponsor of the initiative, committing $125 million in support, the largest-ever corporate gift for U.S. math and science education.

Paul Dieffenthaller, superintendent for ExxonMobil’s Mobile Bay operations, said, “Alabama students can excel at math and science given the right opportunity. ExxonMobil is very proud that our investment is helping prepare more Alabama students for college.”

Advanced Placement (AP) offers high school students an opportunity for college credit in more than 30 subjects, including high-level math and science, if they achieve designated scores on a standardized end-of-course exam. The 81 percent increase in passing scores at the 12 schools is 14 times the national average and nearly four times the overall state average.

Overall enrollment in AP courses at the 12 Alabama schools doubled last year. Participation by minority students nearly tripled, increasing from 209 students in 2008 to 826 students in 2009. The qualifying scores by the minority students increased 67 percent.

The schools participating in the AP training and incentive programs include Clay-Chalkville High School, Gardendale High School, Hueytown High School, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate High School, Minor High School, Pinson Valley High School, Pleasant Grove High School and Shades Valley High School.

The non-profit National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) was launched two years ago to raise math and science achievement in the U.S. by expanding education projects that have proved they produce results. In 2008, NMSI awarded more than $79 million in grants to promote student participation in AP math, science and English classes, working with state coalitions representing 67 high schools across Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Virginia. The program is expanding in another 78 schools this year.

Results released August 25 showed the NMSI program has increased the number of passing AP math, science and English exams by 51 percent among students in the six participating states, more than nine times the national average. The AP support program includes special teacher training, on-going support from master teachers, teacher incentives, more time on task for students and scholarships for students. Students who take AP courses and exams increase their eligibility for scholarships and college admission and are much more likely to earn a college degree.

“The results of the initiative show that the public and private sectors working together can better prepare students to compete in today’s technology-driven economy,” Dieffenthaller said. “ExxonMobil remains committed to this initiative and we look forward to being a part of its continued success in Alabama for many years to come.”

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