A+ College Ready program celebrates 10 years of success

A+ College Ready program celebrates 10 years of success
Alabama's A+ College Ready program marked a decade last week. (contributed)

Alabama’s A+ College Ready celebrated 10 years of success in Alabama on Wednesday by honoring schools, principals, administrators, parents and students who have worked to change the course of education in the state.

State schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey emceed the event at Decatur High School, one of the schools participating in the A+ program.  Mackey called the 10-year celebration a milestone and pointed to the successes of the program as proof Alabama is on the right track.

“We are proud and excited to be part of this celebration of a true Alabama success story,” Mackey said. “The collaboration between the state Department of Education, local schools and school systems and A+ Education Partnership/A+ College Ready shows that Alabama students can and will rise to elevated challenges when given the appropriate motivation and tools.”

A+ College Ready – 10th Anniversary from Keith Matthews on Vimeo.

A+ College Ready partners with high schools and their feeder middle schools to raise academic expectations for all students. It has worked to increase the number of students taking math, science, English and social studies Advanced Placement courses and earning qualifying scores on AP exams.

Among the successes the program can claim in its first decade:

  • The year before A+ College Ready began, 6.4 percent of the Class of 2007 earned at least one qualifying score on an AP exam ­– ranking 49th among the 50 states and District of Columbia. By last year, 13.6 percent of the Class of 2017 earned an AP qualifying score, ranking 36th.
  • The number of students taking AP exams has risen from 8,742 in 2008 to 27,575 this year.
  • A+ College Ready has worked to open the doors to rigorous coursework for underrepresented students. In the program’s first year, 1,532 minority students took 2102 AP exams. This year, 6,880 minority students took 11,738 AP exams. Ten years ago, low-income students took 747 AP exams; this year, that number was 9,533.
  • The program has trained more than 12,000 Alabama teachers in grades six through 12 with the goal of raising academic expectations for all students.
  • In 2008, the 4,329 AP qualifying scores that students earned potentially saved their families $6.5 million in college costs. In 2018, the 11,278 AP qualifying scores potentially saved families more than $16.9 million.

A+ College Ready launched with the help of the single largest private gift to education in Alabama’s history, a $13 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative. Birmingham’s Mary Boehm served as the founding president of A+ College Ready.  At the celebration in Decatur, A+ College Ready recognized her with a scholarship to honor her leadership and years of service.

“We were given a program we could replicate, and we did it,” Boehm said. “We took Alabama from 49th to 36th nationally, doubling the number of students who took AP classes. That’s something to get excited about.”

Former state Superintendent Dr. Joe Morton expressed excitement and said, “It’s a great day when Alabama can stop to celebrate student success. That’s nice, it has a nice ring to it. Let’s keep it continuing.”

Caroline Novak, president of A+ Education Partnership, said, “In Alabama, we had expectations of our students and always believed that all of them could succeed if we stepped up to help them.

“We had this belief they could perform at a higher level and they did. They exceeded our expectations and proved to themselves they could do it,” she said.

A+ College Ready expands in its 11th year by welcoming in the following schools;

To learn more about the A+ College Ready Program or the A+ Education Partnership in Alabama, contact: Tammy Dunn, vice president for Academic Affairs, at [email protected] or Teri Thompson, vice president of Operations, at [email protected].

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