National Math + Science Initiative
College Readiness Program
The National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) College Readiness Program has increased student performance and helped close the achievement gap for under-represented groups in more than 620 schools across the U.S. This year, NMSI brings its nationally renowned program to three Fort Worth, Texas schools – for a total of five local area high schools that have integrated the College Readiness Program into their curricula.
Just last year, NMSI planted its flag locally, instituting its College Readiness Program in two Fort Worth ISD high schools, North Side and Trimble Tech. This year, with the support of The Miles Foundation and others, NMSI introduces three new Fort Worth ISD schools to the program (Arlington Heights, Amon Carter-Riverside, and Southwest).
The College Readiness Program’s success is evidenced by a significant increase in students enrolled in and achieving qualifying scores on AP exams. The average first-year increase in qualifying math, science and English exam scores among NMSI partner schools is 68 percent – 10 times the national average. The first two Fort Worth ISD schools enlisted in the program experienced a 55 percent increase in qualifying math, science and English scores, which is an impressive eight times the national average.
While NMSI’s recipe for success is proven, its implementation approach is customized. NMSI considers the challenges and opportunities of each of its high schools and tailors a program to meet that school’s specific needs and objectives. For the three new Fort Worth ISD schools enrolled in the program in 2014, this meant first equipping them with the resources needed for success. This summer, NMSI provided each school $15,000 to purchase the necessary equipment for their new course offerings.
Once requisite books, computers, and lab equipment were acquired, NMSI sponsored a four-day intensive AP training course to ready the schools’ teachers for their new classes and coursework. This was followed by a two-day refresher course for teachers to reinforce key concepts and field questions. Going forward, the Fort Worth teachers will be offered ongoing training and resources in the form of online and in-person teaching mentors, as well as a myriad of lessons, quizzes, and teaching guides available on NMSI’s dedicated online College Readiness Program platform.
Two additional standout features of NMSI’s program include:
- Student Study Sessions – These subject-specific Saturday sessions feature six hours of instruction, which enable students to spend more time on task – a proven metric for raising AP scores. Lunch (often, pizza) is served and prizes are awarded to help maximize attendance and integrate fun into the learning process. Teachers who attend also receive valuable professional development from outside speakers who bring a fresh perspective on key AP exam topics.
- Mock Exams – Several weeks prior to the AP exams in the spring, NMSI sponsors a mock test to help students determine key focus areas for the final weeks leading up to the exam. Teachers also benefit from a grading exercise, in which specialists demonstrate what to look for during the grading process that will help maximize student results.
NMSI encourages transparency and community engagement with all of its programs, so local funders and other community partners will be involved in these events in the upcoming year. The Miles Foundation is proud to be a partner with NMSI in bringing these leading-edge education practices to Fort Worth schools.