Grant to aid growth of AP courses in Columbus schools

June 16, 2009



The Columbus Municipal School District is getting more than $2.8 million over three years to improve and expand its Advanced Placement programs. 


The district was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive $794,365 under the first year of the Advanced Placement Incentive Program, Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., said today in a release.  


The program will improve Advanced Placement course enrollment and performance, provide sustained professional development and build a college-attainment culture in eight high-poverty schools within the Columbus Municipal and Lowndes County School Districts, including four high schools and four middle schools. 


The grant is for the period from July 1 through June 30, 2010, and additional funding is anticipated over a total period of three years; CMSD officials expect to receive a three-year total of $2,845.014. 


"This important funding represents a significant investment in the future of North Mississippi''s younger generations," said Childers. "All young people, regardless of income, should have access to a quality education. The Advanced Placement Incentive Program will help ensure that low-income students have this opportunity. Increased AP enrollment for Columbus students will help them become better prepared for college, and will provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today''s competitive environment." 


"Columbus School District is excited about the exceptional opportunities the Advanced Placement Incentive grant program will provide our students as we strive to increase participation in advanced level courses," said Dr. Del Phillips, Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent. "We appreciate the U.S. Department of Education in answering the need by giving low-income students a competitive academic edge through this award. We look forward to partnering with Lowndes County School District on this initiative as we challenge students to reach their potential." 


"It gives Columbus Schools tremendous pleasure to be an award recipient of the Advanced Placement Incentive grant program from the U.S. Department of Education," said Martha Liddell, API project director for Columbus Municipal School District. "This unique opportunity allows educators in the Columbus/Lowndes County area research-based approaches to significantly increase the percent of low-income students who have the readiness to enroll and succeed in advanced placement courses at the high school level." 


During the program, AP courses will be delivered through traditional, face-to-face instruction, online through the Mississippi Virtual Public School or through combinations of these approaches. The project''s priorities include expanding the number of AP English, mathematics and science courses and building a critical language program in Chinese. 


To improve student preparation for advanced coursework, the project will implement Advancement Via Individual Determination, provide after-school tutoring and mentoring activities, offer an AP Summer Prep Camp and expand pre-AP courses to include accelerated courses in U.S. history, biology, chemistry, calculus and English. 


Professional learning communities will be created at each targeted middle and high school. These PLCs will consist of pre-AP and AP teachers who will meet weekly to discuss topics such as course rigor, lesson planning, interdisciplinary teaming and diverse learners'' needs. Professional development activities for teachers and school leaders will be provided during the summer and school year in areas such as AVID, alternative scheduling, differentiating instruction, technology integration and vertical and horizontal teaming. 


To create a college-attainment culture, the project will include parent advisory councils, college tours, AP open houses, student internships, career planning and a student ambassador program. The project also will provide teachers with a $1,000 incentive for completing pre-AP or AP certification.