A nonprofit funded primarily by ExxonMobil will pay $250 to students who pass an Advanced Placement exam in Calculus AB; Calculus BC; Computer Science A; Computer Science AB; Statistics; Biology; Chemistry; Environmental Science; Physics B; Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism; Physics C: Mechanics; English Language; and English Literature. The National Math and Science Initiative Inc., which includes business leaders and CEOs, is emulating “an 11-year-old Texas program begun by philanthropist Peter O’Donnell,” reports the Washington Post.
In 10 Dallas high schools that pay the bonuses, the number of passing AP scores (3 or higher on a 5-point scale) has increased from 71 in 1995 to 877 in 2006. The Texas program also has increased teacher training, reduced AP test fees for students and provided teachers with annual bonuses averaging about $4,000. Some teachers have pocketed as much as $10,000 a year in bonuses.
Texas lawyer and education activist Tom Luce, the organization’s chief executive, said the program is designed to “help kids succeed in high school so they can succeed in college” and particularly to encourage minority students to major in math, engineering and science. Luce said AP English was included because reading and writing skills are essential to success in math and science.
About 15 percent of high school graduates in 2006 earned a passing score of 3 or better on an AP exam.
“The program also would help fund an initiative called UTeach that aims to produce more math, science and computer science teachers,” the Post reports.