Franklin County High School students have earned nearly $10,000 in rewards for passing Advanced Placement courses since the launch of a grant aimed at boosting enrollment and performance.
Students and their parents collected checks in a Friday afternoon assembly: $100 for each passing score they received on an AP exam in English, math or science last year.
State education officials announced the three-year, $423,000 AdvanceKentucky grant for Franklin County and Western Hills High School in April 2010.
This is the second year for the program, and the first ceremony to recognize FCHS students for their participation.
Students must earn at least a three on a five-point scale to earn a cash award – and college credit. Sixty-eight FCHS students qualified last year.
Principal Sharon Collett says the school scheduled a public presentation to promote the program to other students.
“They need to see other students being monetarily rewarded for their efforts, which is a first for us,” she said after Friday’s ceremony.
Enrollment in AP classes increased by more than half in the first year of the program, from 143 students to 217, said Robin Lawhorn, AP coordinator for the high school. Of those students, 13 percent came from low-income families, up from 3 percent the year before.
The number of students passing the exams also rose slightly, from 40.6 percent in 2010 to 44.7 percent in 2011.
Collett says administrators approach kids who could handle the rigorous coursework but may not consider enrolling on their own. Saturday study sessions and mock exams are available to help students succeed.
“It’s powerful, it’s very, very powerful,” Collett said. “Kids are being recruited to the program because of the interest in and the influence of AdvanceKentucky.”
Teachers earn a $500 stipend for teaching AP classes, and a $100 bonus for each student who receives a passing score on the exam. Additional pay bonuses are possible if the school meets its goals.
Collett said she doesn’t know how much money FCHS teachers have earned so far.
The number of students taking AP exams at WHHS has more than doubled since the program began, from 71 students to 145.
Of those students, 58 earned a cash reward for their performance, said Janet Fox, a guidance counselor at the school.
The number of students passing the exams dropped, from 52.1 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2011. Fox says that the effect of pushing students to try an AP class who otherwise wouldn’t.
“So while those students may not have earned college credit, they were all exposed to college-level work and this is really the goal of the AdvanceKentucky grant,” she told The State Journal.
“We want all students to leave their comfort zone and try to push themselves to achieve more academically. The goal is to get our students ready for college and career and AP courses are a great way to inspire students to reach higher.”
Enrollment in math, science and English AP courses is eventually expected to increase 120 percent at AdvanceKentucky schools, officials said last spring.
The grant money is split evenly between FCHS and WHHS. The school district also contributes $20,000 a year for teacher training, professional development and materials.
AdvanceKentucky is funded by a $13.2 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative, which is supported by ExxonMobil, Dell and Gates foundations.
Statewide, 64 high schools participate.
Franklin County is part of the third cohort of AdvanceKentucky schools, alongside Bourbon County, Christian County, Clay County, Holmes, George Rogers Clark, Glasgow, Harrison County, Martha Layne Collins, Mercer County, Perry County, Pulaski County, Southwestern, Hopkinsville and Trigg County.
Among the 16 schools, 55 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch, and 13 percent are African American or Hispanic.
To qualify for college credit, students taking AP courses must score at least a three on a five-point scale on the final exam.
FCHS students who earned passing scores on one or more English, math or science AP exam in 2011 are:
William Van Arsdall
WHHS students who earned passing scores on one or more English, math or science AP exam in 2011 are:
Sammie Jo Rowe