According to Bonnie Haynie, El Dorado School District's Director of Professional Development, Federal Programs, and Special Projects, Governor Beebe will take part in a special assembly at the EHS Wildcat Arena. He will commend the school district for being one of only seven sites to reach its AP goals as part of the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science (Arkansas AIMS) program. The public is invited to attend.
This past school year at EHS, 573 AP exams were given - up 68% from just six years ago. At the assembly, students who have scored well on AP exams (with a three, four, or five; in math, science, or English) will be recognized. These students will receive a $100 VISA gift card for each passing score. AP teachers also will be commended. A total of $16,600 will be awarded.
Arkansas AIMS is part of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), formed to encourage high school students to take rigorous AP courses, especially in math and science. El Dorado Superintendent Bob Watson stated that EHS was one of the first ten schools chosen for the Arkansas project, due in part to the number of ethnically-diverse and economically-disadvantaged students taking AP courses and scoring well on exams. In 2011, EHS was recognized by the national College Board, for the greatest overall increase in numbers of students taking AP exams.
AP courses are college-level classes taught in a high school setting, which can provide weighted high school course credit. However, even more importantly, passing scores on AP exams can provide students with valuable college credit, stated Tommie Sue Anthony, Arkansas AIMS President. In fact, she added, with the average Arkansas public university's cost-per-credit-hour of $235, by passing their AP exams, together all qualifying EHS students have earned the equivalent (in total college credit-hours) of up to $90,300. This achievement can save students quite a bit of money and time in post secondary education.
The El Dorado School District begins Pre-AP programs in all core subjects, beginning at the fifth-grade level. It employs endowed chairs in math, science, foreign language, and literacy for K-12th grades, through a partnership with the El Dorado Education Foundation (EDEF).
EHS Principal Jim Tucker stated that, with the addition of two new courses - AP Computer Science, and AP Psychology - EHS now is offering a total of 20 AP classes. AP courses are provided in Math, Science, English, Social Studies, Instrumental Music, Visual Arts, Spanish, and French.
In El Dorado, Murphy Oil Corporation annually awards EHS students for AP exam scores through its Murphy Education Program. Murphy awards a cash grant to each EHS student enrolled in an AP course who takes an AP test and receives a score of three or better. Awards are: $250 for a score of three; $375 for a score of four; and $500 for a score of five. A student taking more than one test will receive an award for each test that qualifies. The program also recognizes AP teachers with cash awards. Murphy Oil Corporation also funds the $50 million scholarship program, the El Dorado Promise.
NMSI was founded in 2007 to help reverse the United States' decline in math and science education. The comprehensive approach includes intensive teacher training, professional development known as "Laying The Foundation," support from master teachers, increased study time for students, open enrollment, and incentives. Advanced Placement teachers must have a master's degree in the content area in which they teach.
According to information from Anthony, if a high school student passes just one AP course, the prospect of college graduation jumps from 30% to 72%; and even students who do not pass AP exams do better in college. Passing AP scores are accepted by many of the nation's colleges and universities, which see success in this area as a reliable indicator of students' knowledge and capacity for college-level thinking.
This past summer, the achievements of EHS, and of AP Physics teacher Shelley Forbess, were chosen for a related NMSI video (click here to watch). Forbess also was honored as one of the first recipients in the group's All-American Teacher Awards.