In the 2017-2018 school year, the National Math and Science Initiative Program (NMSI) was introduced to the Southmoreland School District. The College Readiness Program provides students rigorous coursework so they are prepared with knowledge and skills to succeed after graduation. Furthermore, teachers are equipped with lab ready materials and content-specific training to teach these Advanced Placement classes.
NMSI also offers Saturday study sessions led by experts of that subject. Senior Jenna Conty sais she benefitted from the program.
“I learned a lot in the sessions. In some ways, I even liked them more than the general curriculum,” Conty said.
Many students were rewarded for their hard work through this NMSI program; those who received qualifying scores on their exams were granted cash rewards of $100. This excited many of the students, yet there were a mix of opinions about the program and the curriculum itself.
Some students believed the curriculum was helpful. Senior Megan King received a 4 on her AP Language exam. She also attended a few of the Saturday sessions offered.
“I think it is helpful that the teachers can give us AP style questions that we can’t find answers to online,” said King.
Senior, Dylan Opalinski, agreed that the curriculum was helpful, yet he didn’t attend any of the study sessions.
Many students expected their scores to be good, yet some were very surprised. Senior Loralee Yutzy commented on her expectations for her score; she received a 4 on her AP Language exam.
“I wasn’t expecting my score,” said Yutzy “I didn’t think it would be bad but I didn’t expect what I got.”
According to NMSI, after just one year of administering the program to partnering schools, the percentage of AP qualifying scores in math, science, and math jumped from 5.6 percent to 64 percent. While most of the Southmoreland AP courses involved with the NMSI program proved to show a limited increase in scores since students began participating, the AP English language scores more than doubled, with 26 students earning qualifying scores.
“The NMSI program requires a lot of time, travel and effort from the participating teachers,” said English language teacher Mr. Chuck Brittain. “I definitely saw our students benefit from the training offered through the program. The number of AP language students who earned a qualifying score more than doubled in the year that we started participating. I think that the combination of program itself, along with a talented group of students, resulted in scores that reflected a concerted effort from everyone involved.”
Not all teachers had such positive feedback about the program however. Science teacher Mr. Zachary Cavalier commented on the program and its material.
“It’s a great concept but it’s poorly executed,” said Mr. Cavalier “The material is useful but we are limited to what we can access, and the money we have to spend (through a NMSI grant) isn’t enough to completely revamp the curriculum.”
NMSI has received mixed reviews at Southmoreland between both the teachers and the students participating.
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