This year, Grady became one of the 1,063 high schools across the nation to implement the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) College Readiness Program. This program offers numerous benefits to students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) math, science and ELA courses.
Grady was chosen to receive the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), which is a federal grant given to schools through NMSI. Over the course of the three year long program, Grady will get $35,000 from the grant; this money will be used to purchase supplies and resources to enhance student learning.
“The main goal of the program is to increase student enrollment in AP math, science and English courses,” NMSI i3 Program Manager Crystal Ward said. “We really believe that all students should be in an AP course of some sort. Taking those classes, being a part of that rigor and being exposed to the curriculum will really help students to ultimately be better prepared for college.”
NMSI provides services and incentives to students in AP math, science, and ELA courses. It offers Saturday study sessions throughout the school year to help students prepare for their AP exams, covers half of AP exam costs, and gives a $100 stipend to students for each exam that they get a qualifying score (3, 4, or 5).
“At the Saturday sessions, students receive additional support from experts to make sure the students are comprehending what they are learning and are prepared for the AP exam at the end of the year,” Ward said. “Additionally, students are prompted to work a little harder and go to the Saturday sessions to get the payoff in the end.”
These sessions will be offered to Grady students, as well as North Atlanta High School students leading up to the AP exams. This year, both Grady and North Atlanta joined NMSI, following other Atlanta Public Schools, Booker T. Washington High School and Maynard Jackson High School, which joined at the beginning of the 2016 school year.
“NMSI applies for i3 grants with the federal government, and we specifically target different districts across the nation,” Ward said. “This specific grant covered Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Oakland, Houston, and North Dakota.”
NMSI gives benefits to AP teachers as well as students. Teachers will also receive a $100 stipend for each of their students who scores a 3 or above on the AP exam. This acts as an added incentive for teachers to make sure their students are able to pass their subject’s exam at the end of the year. Additionally, all Grady AP math, science and ELA teachers had to go to professional development training prior to this school year to help them with teaching their course material. This training is designed to provide more specific information for each course and create more effective AP teachers.
“[At the training,] they exposed [teachers] to a lot of information, activities, and assignments that we had no idea were out there that definitely have been proven to increase scores on the AP exam,” Grady AP Environmental Science teacher Pierre Davis said. “With the innovative methods and activities that we are implementing in the classroom combined with the Saturday sessions and the financial incentive, I think we will see an increase in scores.”
Davis is also hopeful that the new initiative will bring more students into the AP program at Grady.
“The aim of [NMSI] is to increase enrollment in AP classes,” Davis said. “With the incentive of a GPA booster, the ability to cut out a college class, and the monetary incentive, I think we will see an influx of students [in AP courses].”
Grady students are optimistic about the effects the initiative could have on student learning and getting students prepared for AP exams and, ultimately, college.
“I’ve been in regular classes, and I can see how they’re not as rigorous [as AP classes],” Grady senior Walden Jones said. “If some students are more motivated to take AP classes [through NMSI], then I think they would be more ready for college.”