AdvanceKentucky program wins praise from students, teachers even if one union objects

02/07/2011 07:20 PM

Teachers and students at Scott County High School said a pilot program that provided bonuses and resources for training to Advanced Placement teachers has led to improved test scores and more student engagement.

In interviews, they said the AdvancedKentucky program has improved performance even as the state’s largest local teachers union — the Jefferson County Teachers Association — continues to object to it because it offers bonuses only for those select AP teachers.

Scott County High School was one of 12 schools that initially participated in the AdvanceKentucky program, which provides funding for math, science and English AP courses. The program, founded in 2007 through the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, received $13 million in funding from Exxon Mobil Corp. and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In addition to paying for teacher training, the program pays bonuses to the teachers of the math, science and English AP classes of $100 for each student who scores high enough on the AP exam to receive college credits. Students also get a cash scholarship for scoring that high.

Since the program began, Kentucky has seen a spike in the number of students passing those AP exams.

For instance, students in the schools participating in the AdvanceKentucky program saw a 52.6% increase in passing scores on the math AP exam in the 2009-10 school year. That year 2,016 students passed, according to state education statistics.

This year, 44 schools are participating and a host of other schools, including Campbell County High School want to join starting in the 2011-12 school year.

One school system that hasn’t participated in the program is the Jefferson County School District. Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, explained on Monday’s edition of Pure Politics that the union was concerned the program would drive more teachers away from low-performing high schools and toward the schools that have better-prepared students.

- Reporting and video by Don Weber


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