Colorado Initiative's Early Success Raises the Math and Science Bar (Gulp)

I occasionally get accused of being some kind of verbal prodigy. Less often do I get asked about my math and science skills. And frankly, it’s fine with me not to go there. But I get the scope of the problem associated with not enough students qualified and ready for careers in science, math and engineering. And so does the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which I told you about last December.

The difference is NMSI is doing something about it — something remarkable and effective, something that has begun taking off in Colorado, as their new 4-minute video shares:

Last year, three high schools participated in the pilot of the NMSI program brought to life by the great work of the Colorado Legacy Foundation. The video brings out scenes from the Foundation’s October 6 academic pep rally that gave out $17,700 in student awards for passing an AP test as part of the program.

(Cash incentives, eh? How much cash incentive do you think little Eddie gets to pontificate on this blog?… Uh, never mind. Please don’t answer that one.)

The resulting growth in students taking and passing those important Advanced Placement (AP) tests is worth touting. The year before the program, the trio of Fountain Fort-Carson, Mesa Ridge and Widefield High Schools yielded a total of 48 qualifying AP scores. Last year the number was 255.

NMSI’s Gregg Fleisher told my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow on Wednesday’s radio show that the AP test-passing increase from those three schools alone represented 19 percent of the state’s total growth. He also explains why the cash incentive piece is more of a headline-grabber, and more attention is deserved for the program’s focus on teacher training.

I wonder what kind of results they’ll get once the program reaches 30 Colorado high schools within the next couple years. For the sake of the students and our nation’s future, I hope the rate of success continues.