The Education Innovator #14
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The Education Innovator
 April 28, 2003 • Number 14
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What's inside...
Jackson Public Schools, Mississippi, Advanced Placement Program
What's New
Deputy Under Secretary writes article on public school choice; OII On the Road; and Lab magazine focuses on reading
Innovations in the News
Colorado governor signs law establishing the first state school voucher program; plus news on charter schools, alternative teacher certification, and supplemental education services

Jackson Public Schools, Jackson, Mississippi, Dedicated to Advanced Placement
As the only urban center in Mississippi, Jackson Public Schools faces a similar struggle with poverty, unemployment, and education deficits as other such cities around the country. The city dedicates many resources to its children in order to guarantee that they receive a quality education and the chance to achieve their full potential. One step that Jackson Public Schools is taking in this direction is to enhance the Advanced Placement (AP) program. This program currently serves 807 students in pre-AP and AP classes with a goal of increasing low-income enrollment and success by 10% annually.

Jackson Public Schools has received an Advanced Placement Incentive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support its efforts. The Jackson Public Schools' Advanced Placement Incentive project is designed to expand the current pre-AP and AP program by serving low-income students from every middle and high school zone.

"Young people who take challenging classes, such as Advanced Placement courses, perform better than their peers regardless of their family or financial background," according to Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "The Advanced Placement Incentive grants encourage students to challenge themselves and help our schools close the achievement gap between students from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers."

To meet the challenge, Jackson recruits students from low-income families into 6th grade pre-AP classes. They participate in higher-level science, social studies, math, and language arts classes and in after school programs at study centers to develop the skills necessary to succeed in AP courses. Students enrolled in AP courses receive tutoring or mentoring services for up to two hours per week. Challenging textbooks and trade books, interactive curricular supplies, and upgraded lab equipment for science labs enrich classrooms. At each grade level, students travel to educational sites related to their course work. Nicknamed "OSCUR's" for Off-Site CURricular experiences, these trips connect students' studies to the larger world.

AP and pre-AP teachers receive professional development in interactive teaching methods and on motivating students to achieve their potential. They meet regularly in Vertical Teams to learn new teaching strategies, share their successes and challenges, and, most importantly, develop curricula that build toward Advanced Placement courses.

The Office of Innovation and Improvement administers the Advanced Placement Incentive grant program. The purpose of the program is to support state and local efforts to increase access to AP classes and tests for low-income students. For more information about the Jackson, Mississippi program, go to apgrant.htm. For information about the Advanced Placement Incentive grant program, go to To learn more about Advanced Placement, see


What's New
Denver Post published a statement by Deputy Under Secretary Rees
The Denver Post published a statement by Deputy Under Secretary Rees on Colorado's new school choice law that includes private school as an option (also see Innovations in the News below). (April 20)

OII On the Road
OII has added a new element to the website: OII On the Road. Check this calendar to find out where and when OII key staff will be making presentations. To go to the site, click (April 28)

The Vision
The latest issue of The Vision, the magazine published by SERVE (The Regional Educational Laboratory for the Southeast) features articles about initiatives and issues on reading, including the Mississippi reading initiative. The Mississippi Reading Reform Model (MRRM) was designed to address reading improvement with implementation of scientifically based best practices. (Volume 2, Number 1, 2003

Funding Opportunity
The competition is open for the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program (deadline: June 3). For the application and guidance, go to


Innovations in the News

School Vouchers
Colorado Governor Bill Owens signed a law that established the first state school voucher program since the U.S. Supreme Court declared such programs constitutional. [More- The LA Times] (April 17)

Charter Schools
Chancellor Beacon Academies, a company that runs charter schools in Central Florida, plans to increase the school day by about half an hour; focus more on reading, social studies, math and science; and change the way art and music are taught. [More- The Sun Sentinel] (April 14)

Charter Schools in Memphis, TN are experiencing an increase in student applications. As parents become more and more frustrated with their current school, they are beginning to explore other options. [] (April 10)

Alternative Teacher Certification
Two Houston educators are working to address the critical shortage of teachers in the community. The new alternative certification program for teachers offers preparation sessions to applicants with a four-year bachelor's degree who feel called to the teaching profession. [More- Fort Bend Southwest Sun] (April 15)

Supplemental Education Services
A package of educational programs was introduced in Florida to assist students who are struggling to meet the state's standards in order to graduate from high school or be promoted to the next grade. The assistance initiative, called Read to Learn, is targeted specifically toward third graders. [More- The Orlando Business Journal] (April 15)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011