An initiative that has significantly increased the number of college-level Advanced Placement exams passed by Houston ISD students won unanimous support from the Board of Education on Thursday.
Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, HISD pledged to pay the AP and International Baccalaureate exam fees for all students enrolled in those college-level courses. That policy, combined with expanded professional development opportunities that have given more teachers the tools they need to teach the more rigorous courses, has brought the total number of passing AP exam scores in HISD to 6,657, a 35 percent increase over a two-year period. A score of 3 or higher on an AP exam is accepted by most colleges and universities.
This significant progress in AP exam achievement is among the many reasons why HISD was recently named among four national finalists for the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education. HISD’s senior class of 2013 is now guaranteed $150,000 in Broad scholarships. That figure would rise to $550,000 if HISD were to beat out the other three finalists.
“Efforts such as our AP initiative demonstrate the HISD Board of Education’s commitment to providing every student in every high school access to classes that will prepare them for success in college and in the workplace,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “This $1.6 million investment is saving our graduates and their parents millions more dollars in college tuition bills that they won’t have to pay.”
Providing every student at every school with an academically rigorous education is one of the five Core Initiatives outlined in HISD’s Strategic Direction.
In addition to voting to continue paying students’ AP exam fees, the board agreed to spend as much as $338,800 on summer programs that will train more teachers to prepare students for the tests.
Board Shows Support for Recess
The HISD Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution and policy brought forward by HISD parents that recommends elementary schools offer daily recess in addition to physical education classes (by muanza). The resolution and policy does not mandate that all schools follow this recommendation. However, all HISD elementary schools are expected to comply with a state law that requires elementary students receive at least 135 minutes per week of physical activity, which may include recess and/or PE.