WALES (AP) – A year into a pilot project that aims to boost enrollment in Advanced Placement classes, the number of students taking the college-level courses at participating Maine high schools has more than doubled.

The project is funded by the National Governors Association, which gave six states $500,000 each to train teachers, buy supplies and pay for the $83 fee for students to take AP tests. Eight high schools in Maine are taking part, along with 49 schools in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada and Wisconsin.

In 2006, 294 students were enrolled in AP classes at the eight Maine schools. This year, the number has grown to 712.

So far, Maine is leading all states in boosting AP enrollment, said David Wakelyn, director of the grant project at the governors association.

“Maine is a shining example of what every state should be doing,” he said.

Advanced Placement was created in 1955 by the College Board, a nonprofit group that also developed the SAT and PSAT college entrance exams, to give high-performing students a chance to take college-level courses while still in high school.

The National Governors Association project seeks to increase the number of students in AP classes, especially among low-income and some minority populations.

In Maine, the eight schools in the program are Richmond, Portland, Deering, Leavitt, Oak Hill, Lisbon, Poland and Vinalhaven high schools.

At Oak Hill High School in Wales, Advanced Placement courses weren’t available until this year. School district officials had decided the college-level courses were a luxury neither taxpayers nor students could afford.

But a year into the project, Oak Hill Principal Pat Doyle said the views about AP classes have changed. This year, 67 students are taking AP courses.

“We opened the doors,” said Doyle.

AP programs are viewed as one way to boost student performance. In 2005, 60 percent of the nation’s high schools offered AP classes, which are available in 35 different subjects.

But the courses have also come under scrutiny, and some colleges have stopped awarding credit for some of them because of concerns they did not meet the colleges’ standards for introductory-level courses.

In Maine, educators in the AP project say there is no doubt that the courses have had a positive impact on their students.

Although the first group of students in the project will not get its scores until this summer, educators said the project has invigorated teachers and given students a taste of what college will be like.



Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

AP-ES-05-30-07 1624EDT


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