Carter In The Classroom

Focusing on unique things school districts are doing to help children succeed.
Wayne Carter

At Rowlett High School, It Pays to Pass AP Tests

The program is an initiative by the National Math and Science Institute

Take away a teenager's allowance, and you can bet they're not going to be happy. Offer them cash and you usually get their attention.

That's what is happening in some North Texas classrooms and the results are pretty impressive.

Recently, Rowlett High School held a pep rally where the students showed a ton of school spirit.

"Students, they just love to be recognized, and academics is often overlooked, sports tends to be the focus," said Bryan Duncan, an AP statistics teacher.

Duncan's superstars are buried in books, not shooting baskets. And they're not celebrated by the cheerleaders and the band -- until now.

Rowlett High held an all-school celebration for 174 students who not only took Advanced Placement classes in calculus and economics, but who passed their achievement test to earn college credit. One by one the scholars were called up, recognized for their hard work and paid $100 for every AP test they passed.

"There's no better way to motivate anyone, especially a bunch of broke high school students, than a big fat $100 check," senior AP student Alex Collier said.

The Texas Instruments Foundation kicked in the cash this year for the National Math and Science Initiative Program for passing courses like AP physics, statistics or chemistry.

"A lot of people have this expectation, 'This AP class is going to be super hard, and I'm not going to do well,' but when you're actually in there, in that class you had so many resources to help you. So it's a lot easier than you think it is," said Kelly Long, an AP senior, who earned $300 for passing three different tests.

The program has parents motivated too. Danielle Greco’s daughter just passed AP biology.

"She's the oldest of four, she's going to be the first one to go to college. It's not cheap,” Greco said.

Every entirely free AP class students pass here saves about $3,000 in tuition costs at a 4-year public college, which is a lot to celebrate.

Data provided by Garland ISD shows the percentage of passing AP scores has jumped nearly 8 percent since the program started. That means more kids headed to college with credits already under their belts.

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