APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The AAIMS program takes a comprehensive approach that dramatically increases participation and performance of high school students in math, science, and English courses; expands access to college level courses among traditionally under-represented students; and increases teacher effectiveness and student achievement by exposing students to rigorous AP courses and providing extensive training programs for teachers.
The program includes 60 hours of professional development per teacher (comprised of 30 hours of training at the AP Summer Institute where teachers receive AP course specific content instruction and the other 30 hours occur throughout the year as part of the 'Laying the Foundation' course designed to prepare them to teach the 'Pre-AP' curriculum), placement of AAIMS Content Directors in each AP classroom (Content Directors are content experts and former AP course instructors with highly successful teaching records and their role is to mentor, provide support and assist in the AP teachers in the classroom at least once a month), three 6-hour Saturday Student Study Sessions per course (arranged and lead by the Content Directors), student tutoring sessions, provision of adequate materials and equipment for the courses, vertical alignment of curriculum and teachers in each content area, open enrollment in AP courses, and cash incentives for qualifying scores on AP exams for both students and teachers. A qualifying score on an AP exam is a score of 3 or higher on the AP grading scale of 1-5. Scores of 3 and higher on AP exams enable students to receive college credit for the course taken.
The incentive program is comprised of a payment of $100 to every student for qualifying scores on each AP exam they take and payment of $100 to every teacher for each qualifying score one of their students receives. There is an additional tiered bonus for teachers reaching aggregate qualifying goals per classroom, with three benchmark goals (a varying number based on total enrollment of students for each school) that have a $1,000 cash bonus for reaching each tier with a maximum of $3000 available to each teacher for reaching all three tier goals. Additionally, students in 9th and 10th grade will be exposed to the 'Pre-AP' curriculum to prepare them for taking AP classes in 11th and 12th grade. The eight schools were chosen from a group of applicants to become a part of AAIMS. The selected schools were visited by a committee which interviewed teachers, administrators, school board members, and community representatives and observed teachers as they taught. The selection was competitive and a minimum of 30% of the students in each school must qualify for free/reduced lunch for the school to have been eligible.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Nine days of professional development will begin in mid-June 2011 and continue throughout the summer. Four additional days of professional development occurs throughout the school year. Saturday Study sessions begin in mid-Winter and continue throughout the spring of 2012. Four AP Vertical Team meetings with set agendas occur throughout the school year. Teachers and students are awarded cash incentive payments in early Fall 2012 for scores achieved on the AP exams in May, 2012. The eight schools will add an additional 18 AP math, science and English course courses in 2011-12 allowing an additional 422 students access to AP courses and increase the expected number of qualifying AP scores by 291. The total number of additional students enrolled in pre-AP classes during the 2011-12 school year is projected to be 1,356.
Arkansas is one of the lowest ranked states in the number of college graduates and in median income. To attract knowledge-based industry, Arkansas must produce college ready students in general and those with STEM degrees in particular. The AP Training and Incentive Model provides an innovative approach to this problem. AP students are three times more likely to earn a college degree. Mastering the rigorous coursework of AP math, science, and English is transformative: if a high school student passes just one AP course, the prospect of graduating from college jumps from 30 percent to 72 percent. International rankings show American students who take AP math and science courses are among the very few who compare favorably with their foreign counterparts. Expanding the program from 32 schools to 40 schools in the 2011-12 school year will help to change the culture of diminished expectations in Arkansas schools and demonstrate that it is possible to rapidly improve student performance in math, science, and English through proven programs of academic success.
AAIMS will close its doors at the end of September 2013 if no operating funds are found. AAIMS currently has a legislative agenda underway, and it is hoped that the state will fund the operating expenses. There are 7 schools that have indicated that they wish to become an AAIMS school. AAIMS hopes that it will continue on and can impact almost every high school in Arkansas. AAIMS has developed a video funded by Entergy corporation, that tells its story, and we are sending it to you. If operational funds are provided by the state, then AAIMS will continue to seek private funding to provide the incentive payments to teachers and students for qualifying scores. AAIMS welcomes any partner.