District Administration April 2017 - 62


ProfessionalOpinion
A winning formula
for Atlanta's schools
A boost in math and science performance raises college and career prospects
By Meria Joel Carstarphen and Matthew Randazzo

T

he road hasn't always been
easy, but Atlanta Public
Schools has a proud history
of bringing communities together
to address academic and social challenges. We've made great strides as a
district, especially over the last two
years. Still, we have more work to do.
Though high school graduation
rates climbed more than 12 percentage points from 2014 to 2015, nearly
30 percent of our students are not
earning a diploma. And the diploma,
even, is only a starting point in today's
job market. That is why one of our
highest priorities is not only ensuring
that more of our students graduate
from high school, but that they do so
with the skills they need to be successful after graduation, whether they
stay right here in Atlanta or take their
talents and passions across the country. With the infusion of additional
resources and the right partners, we
can make that goal a reality.
The district has teamed with the
National Math and Science Initiative
to take on this challenge. The Initiative received a nearly $20 million
Scale-up grant from the Department
of Education's Investing in Innovation (i3) 2015 grant competition to
expand the initiative's proven College
Readiness Program to nine school districts across eight states.
Atlanta-with a focus on serving
a high proportion of underserved students, a thriving science and engineer-

DAmag.me/formula

62 April 2017

Supporting students
in challenging work
introduces them to the
rigors of college courses
and builds academic
confidence-a critical
component of student
success.
ing-based economy, and strong leadership and community support-was
a natural choice for a partner.
Academic confidence
Research shows that students who
succeed in challenging AP coursework
are more likely than their peers to
earn college degrees on time. Supporting students in challenging work also
introduces them to the rigors of college courses and builds academic confidence, which is a critical component
of student success.
But AP is not limited to students
who traditionally take more challenging coursework. In fact, many students
who have the potential to excel in rigorous courses never have the chance to
enroll and thrive in them. That's about
to change with the College Readiness Program, which-coupled with
expanded access to AP courses-is
providing the critical tools our teachers
need to support students in rigorous
study. The program includes extensive
training for teachers, study sessions for
students, and the equipment that powers rigorous curricula.

By dramatically increasing the
number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on AP math,
science and English exams-and expanding access to rigorous coursework
to traditionally underrepresented students-the program is preparing our
students for college and the demands
of tomorrow's jobs.
Soaring scores
Through its participation in the
College Readiness Program, Atlanta
Public Schools will join a legacy of
more than 1,000 schools and forwardthinking districts across 34 states
that have seen remarkable success as
National Math and Science Initiative
partners.
In just one year, the College Readiness Program has boosted the number
of AP qualifying scores in partner
schools by 10 times the national average. Among African-American and
Hispanic students participating in the
program, the increase in qualifying
scores is more than six times the national average. Even with that proven
track record, the initiative and the district are humbled by the work we have
ahead of us. DA
Meria Joel Carstarphen is superintendent of
Atlanta Public Schools. Matthew Randazzo
is chief executive officer of the National Math
and Science Initiative.
District Administration welcomes
the insights and opinions of educators
and administrators on all topics. If you
would like to contribute a guest column,
please contact Tim Goral at tgoral@
promediagrp.com.
District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration April 2017

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