On Monday the U.S. Department of Education awarded the Little Rock School District a $1.3 million grant through the No Child Left Behind Act's Advanced Placement (AP) Incentives program. This is a competitive two-year grant for a promising program designed to increase the number of students in middle and high school who take and succeed in advanced courses. Underprivileged students who take such courses are much more likely to enroll and be successful in college than those who do not. Offering AP courses also helps to upgrade the entire school curriculum for all students. The following are excerpts from yesterday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article, "6 schools in [Little Rock] district get a boost from grant," highlighting the grant announcement:
"The Little Rock School District was awarded a $1.3 million grant to increase the number of low- and middle-income students taking advanced placement courses, school and federal officials announced Monday. The two-year grant, distributed through the No Child Left Behind Act, will create the Accelerated Student Achievement Program at six district schools, interim superintendent Morris Holmes said at a news conference at Hall High School. 'This money is going somewhere,' Holmes said. 'This energy and excitement is going somewhere.'"
"Through the program, which begins May 1, advanced placement teachers will participate in conferences, workshops and other professional development opportunities. The program also includes online resources for high school students, tutoring and a college preparation awareness program for middle school students.
"Nina Rees, deputy undersecretary for innovation and improvement in the U.S. Department of Education, said the grant is intended to increase student participation in advanced placement. 'If you offer the coursework, the students will come,' she said at the news conference."
"Preparing students for college is a 'moral issue,' Holmes said. 'It is wrong for us to continue down this road and not have a significantly larger number of our children excel,' he said.
"The grant is part of the federal advanced-placement incentives program. President Bush's 2005 budget includes a 119 percent increase for the incentives program, from $23.5 million to $51.5 million, Rees said.
"The goal of the grant is to increase students participating in advanced placement in math, science and English, said Vanessa Cleaver, the project coordinator."
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