MMSI schools double AP passing scores in two years

The largest statewide high school math and science education and college readiness program is closing achievement gaps in 21 Massachusetts high schools.

MALDEN – State officials today announced that 21 schools participating in the Mass Math + Science Initiative (MMSI) have nearly doubled the number of passing scores on college-level Advanced Placement (AP)* exams, while narrowing access and achievement gaps in race, ethnicity and gender.

Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville and Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester released the results of the 2010 AP exams from 21 public schools across the state that participate in MMSI. These schools posted 2,044 math, science or English AP scores of 3 or higher, considered passing or “qualifying” scores. In 2008, these schools posted only 1,042 passing scores – a 96% increase in two years – significantly outpacing state and national gains during the same period. According to national research, students who pass at least one AP exam are three times more likely to graduate from college than those who do not.

In its first three years, MMSI has increased AP enrollments in participating schools from about 4,000 in 2008 to nearly 9,000 today. With 25 schools joining the program this school year, MMSI now serves students in 46 public high schools statewide.

Results from the 2010 AP exams in math, science and English indicate:

• The nine high schools that joined MMSI in 2008 posted a two-year increase of 80% in AP passing scores, compared to a 7% gain among all non-MMSI schools in Massachusetts, and a 14% gain nationally.

• The 12 high schools that joined MMSI in 2009 posted a one-year increase of 82% in AP passing scores, compared to a 6% gain among all non-MMSI schools in Massachusetts, and an 8% gain nationally.

• In the first cohort of MMSI schools, qualifying scores among African-American and Hispanic students more than doubled (104%) over two years, compared to increases of 30% statewide and 28% nationally during the same period. MMSI schools represent only 13% of all Massachusetts schools with African-American AP test-takers (21 out of 165) but yielded 30% of passing scores among Black students.

• Passing scores on AP math and science exams among female students nearly doubled (94%) in two years among the first nine MMSI schools, compared to an 8% two-year gain among females in Massachusetts and 9% across the U.S.

“The AP exam results announced today are evidence that high expectations and hard work lead to increased student achievement,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Our Administration remains committed to partnering with these schools in setting achievable goals for their students in order to build a culture of success.”

“The Mass Math + Science Initiative has quickly emerged as a very effective high school program focused on getting results for students,” said Secretary Reville. “MMSI schools are achieving substantial increases in AP participation and performance, starting to close achievement gaps and putting thousands of additional Massachusetts students on a path to college and career success.”

“This program has proven that with the proper training and support, all high schoolers can achieve at high levels in rigorous, college-level courses,” said Commissioner Chester. “I congratulate all of the students and teachers who have worked so hard to get these impressive results.”

“These results demonstrate what is possible for thousands of students right here in Massachusetts across a range of schools,” said Morton Orlov II, President of MMSI. “Our students, particularly low-income and minority students, can and will meet rigorous standards if we expect them to, and we support them.”

Officials announced the results in a student assembly at Malden High School, joined by elected officials and education and business leaders. Before joining MMSI, Malden High School enrolled fewer than 200 students in Advanced Placement math, science and English classes. This year, AP enrollment in these classes will exceed 525, more than tripling the number of Black and Hispanic enrollments. Malden High achieved 172 qualifying scores of 3 or higher on the 2010 AP exams in math, science and English, a 75% increase since MMSI began two years ago.

Secretary Reville congratulated Malden Superintendent Sidney Smith and Malden High School Principal Dana Brown on the school recently being named one of “America’s Best High Schools” in Newsweek magazine, largely because of its AP expansion. [See below for additional school success stories.]

In 2007, Massachusetts was one of six states selected by the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) to receive a three-year, privately funded grant to replicate a highly successful program AP expansion in the Dallas Public Schools.

Led by Mass Insight Education in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, MMSI expands access and improves outcomes in college-level courses, particularly among Black, Hispanic, low-income, female and other student groups under-represented in AP classes, in order to prepare them for highly skilled careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The MMSI approach includes extensive teacher training and mentoring, tutoring and other academic supports for students, as well as privately-funded financial awards for teachers and students. Schools participating in the program sign performance agreements with MMSI, which include specific enrollment and achievement targets.

MMSI is now accepting applications for schools to participate in the 2011-2012 school year, with a goal of expanding the program to approximately 60 schools next year.


• In Fall River, B.M.C. Durfee High School nearly doubled participation in math, science and English AP* courses in two years, with 325 students now enrolled. In just one year, the school more than tripled the number of AP passing scores in these subjects – one of the highest increases in the state.

• MMSI has helped Northampton High School more than double the number of math, science and English AP passing scores in two years, from 177 in 2008 to 366 this year. In AP Physics alone, passing scores have risen from 27 prior to MMSI (2008) to 101 this year. With just over 400 juniors and seniors, enrollment in AP classes this year is 430.

• MMSI has enabled Peabody Veterans Memorial High School to nearly quadruple AP enrollments in two years, from 99 to 378, including new courses in AP Statistics, Environmental Science, and English Language and Composition. As a result, the school also has nearly quadrupled AP passing scores in two years, from 35 in 2008 to 134 this year. Peabody High has significantly increased female students’ participation in AP math and science classes, with only 20 enrollments in 2008-2009 and 152 today.

• Today, Methuen High School’s AP participation is nearly six times higher than it was two years ago, with a jump from 59 to 338 enrollments. As a result, AP passing scores soared from 42 to 141 in one year. Last year, Methuen High posted only two AP passing scores in math, science and English among Black and Hispanic students, but this year, the school posted 20 passing scores among these student populations. The school also nearly doubled the number of passing scores on AP math and science exams among female students.

• Easthampton High School posted the highest one-year increase in passing scores statewide (among schools with more than five passing scores), with six in 2009 and 41 this year – a seven-fold gain.

• At the John D. O’Bryant School of Math in Science in Boston, passing scores on AP math, science and English exams among African-American and Hispanic students have increased 48% since 2008. Passing scores in AP Chemistry jumped from 9 to 24 since last year, a one-year increase of 166% in one of the most challenging AP courses. This year, five other Boston Public Schools have joined MMSI, adding more than 330 AP enrollments to the district-wide AP enrollment increase.

• AP enrollment at South High Community School in Worcester more than doubled in two years, from 166 to 348, with passing scores increasing by nearly 45%. In AP Statistics alone, passing scores rose from 6 to 21 in just one year, a 250% increase.

• In one year, Attleboro High School increased AP passing scores from 90 to 150, including doubling the number of students passing AP English Language and Composition. In the school’s new AP Statistics class, 17 out of 25 students achieved passing scores.

• At Central High School in Springfield, AP enrollment has increased significantly in three years, from 166 before MMSI to 373 enrollments today. The number of passing scores has increased by more than 50% since 2008.

• MMSI has enabled Peabody High School to more than quadruple AP enrollments in two years, from 99 to 412, including new courses in AP Statistics, Environmental Science, and English Language and Composition. As a result, the school also has nearly quadrupled AP passing scores in two years, from 35 in 2008 to 134 this year.

• Chelsea High School has more than doubled AP enrollment in three years, with 167 enrollments this year, including new courses in AP Statistics, Environmental Science and English Language and Composition. This year, the school achieved twice as many passing scores compared to 2008.

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