20 Ala. high schools join AP programs participation list

GREENVILLE, AL - State officials are announcing the expansion of a program designed to increase the number of high school students taking advanced placement courses in math, science and English.

Gov. Robert Bentley and state schools Superintendent Joe Morton announced during a Tuesday ceremony at Greenville High School that 20 additional Alabama high schools would be joining the A Plus College Ready Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program. A total of 43 Alabama high schools were already participating in the program.

A+ College Read is funded by a $13.2 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI).

Education officials say the program will encourage more students to take the AP courses and will improve their scores on AP exams. AP classes allow high school students to take and receive credit for college-level courses. Bentley said the AP courses offer students "the best chance" to succeed in college.

The announcement comes on the heels of a recent announcement that Advanced Placement scores for Alabama students are the best ever.

"A+ College Ready is a proven investment that is preparing our students today for the jobs of tomorrow," Governor Bentley said.  "The expansion of Advanced Placement training into 63 schools proves that Alabama is not only committed to building and sustaining a world-class workforce, but that our teachers and students are most definitely up to the task."

In its 7th Annual AP Report released last week, the College Board cited Alabama as a national leader in rising AP participation and success rates.

"It is a good day in Alabama to see more of our students – particularly those from traditionally underserved communities –participating and succeeding in AP courses than ever before,"  Bentley said. "AP courses offer our students the best chance to succeed in college and beyond and I am committed to building on the success of programs like A+ College Ready, which work to expand AP course offerings in schools."

In 2008, when Alabama became one of only six U.S. states to win a coveted NMSI AP Training and Incentive Program grant, the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses increased significantly. In the first year alone, 23 Alabama schools in five districts recorded a 106 percent increase in passing scores on AP math, science and English exams. With a success rate 16 times the national average of 6.6 percent, Alabama led the nation in increasing the number of students earning passing scores.

"Alabama students are succeeding in AP classes at unprecedented rates. With the addition of 20 new schools, we will open AP classroom doors to more students than ever before, including some who may not have initially believed they could succeed at this level," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Joe Morton. "Our results show that with the right support, Alabama teachers and students can and will achieve at high levels."

The 20 new high schools selected through a competitive application process to participate in the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program include:

•           Carver HS and Jackson-Olin HS – Birmingham City Schools

•           Greenville HS – Butler County Schools

•           Hillcrest HS – Conecuh County Schools

•           Stanhope Elmore HS – Elmore County Schools

•           Oak Grove HS – Jefferson County Schools

•           Asbury HS, Douglas HS, Kate Duncan Smith DAR HS – Marshall County Schools

•           Monroe County HS – Monroe County Schools

•           Saraland HS – Saraland City Schools

•           Calera HS, Shelby County HS – Shelby County Schools

•           Tallassee HS – Tallassee City Schools

•           Hewitt Trussville HS – Trussville City Schools

•           Central HS, Northridge HS, Paul Bryant HS – Tuscaloosa City Schools

•           Hillcrest HS, Tuscaloosa Co. HS – Tuscaloosa County Schools

"A+ College Ready improves academic opportunities for students across the state and ultimately allows businesses to employ the best and brightest graduates." said Dr. Eli Capilouto, Provost, University of Alabama at Birmingham and A+ College Ready Board member.  This belief is echoed by business leaders from Alabama Power Co., Regions Financial Corporation, Boeing and ExxonMobil that help fund A+ College Ready along with other companies, foundations and individual donors from across the state.

A+ College Ready is a division of the A+ Education Partnership and was created with funding from the National Math and Science Initiative to implement a proven Advanced Placement training and incentive initiative in public schools throughout Alabama. For more information, visit www.aplusala.org.

Governor Bentley's press office and The Associate Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.