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Havre De Grace High School Helps Improve Education in Maryland

Student success is something we always try to support and encourage here at NMSI, so we are thrilled to announce the amazing results of our Comprehensive AP Program at Havre De Grace High School in Havre de Grace, Maryland! The program sponsor at this school was the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), who has awarded nearly $20 million total in grant funds to NMSI for its AP programs supporting military families. However, the program itself was made successful by the school’s phenomenal teachers, whose passion for learning has completely changed the culture of their school and the mindset of their students.

Deborah Cummins is one of those teachers at Havre De Grace HS, where she has taught AP English for the last 5 years, this year being her second to implement the NMSI program. Since NMSI’s program came to the school last year, she has seen and experienced a huge paradigm shift in the school. She’s actually heard students in the halls talk about what AP courses they’re taking and why they’re taking them, which was unheard of before. AP is now being perceived as being the “cool thing” in their high school, which she believes is really important to motivate the students to take the courses in the first place, and it’s a big reason why enrollment in her AP courses has skyrocketed. When she first started teaching AP, she had 18 students enrolled and only 3 of them took their exams. When she first started the NMSI program, she had 87 students enrolled and an 85% pass rate for the exams. This year, she has 167 students enrolled, and all of them are going to take the test. Cummins believes, though, that the chief reason why enrollment continues to grow in her classes and her school is because of the NMSI program. “I really have to speak to NMSI about that because their materials are fantastic, their presenters are generally really, really professional and they know what they’re doing and they’re fun and the kids like to go to the [Saturday] sessions.”
One of the students Cummins is referring to is Farhan Bachu, who has already graduated from the high school, but he took several AP courses while he was attending the school. He believes that taking AP courses was worth it – especially in math and science – because the challenging and rigorous coursework helped shape his thinking and prepare him for college. He was forced to think critically and outside of the box, which helped him earn a 4.0 his first semester in college. “College is a lot harder than high school, and I don’t think that I would be as successful as I am right now in college if I hadn’t taken those AP classes,” he says. “I can’t imagine going through my classes that I’m in now without having been put through that first.” He wasn’t the only one who was excited about AP either, and he says the reaction to the NMSI program at the school was great. He says that all of the students were really excited to be a part of the program because they loved the challenge. It was more work, yes, but the teachers really helped make the courses fun and interesting as they were learning at the same time.
The experiences of this students and teacher are just a fraction of how much NMSI has impacted this school, and the proof is in the results. Here are a few highlights:

•The average first year increase in passing math, science, and English AP scores was 70%, compared to 6.5% in the rest of Maryland and 7.2% nationally.
•The average first year increase in passing AP scores for minority students in those same subjects was 175%, compared to 18.4% in Maryland and 14.1% nationally.
•For just math and science, the average first year increase in passing AP scores for minority students was 200%, compared to 25.3% in Maryland and 16.2% nationally
•And in those same two subjects of math and science, the first year increase in passing AP scores for female students was 467%, compared to 9.3% in Maryland and 8.3% nationally.
We are incredibly proud of these results, and we offer our congratulations to the teachers and students who made this happen at Havre De Grace High School. The efforts of this school to help close the gender and achievement gaps in STEM education and prepare more students for the modern workforce and knowledge economy is readily apparent, and their dedication to these causes is inspiring. We expect great things from Havre De Grace High School in the future, and we can’t wait to see even better results next year.