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Transforming High Schools to Better Serve All Students

“When high schools are designed for the 21st century, they are a springboard into opportunity. And in today’s innovation economy, with rapid growth in high-wage fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the role of high schools is more important than ever.” Those ideas, articulated by Roberto J. Rodríguez, deputy assistant to the President for education, are the guiding principles behind today’s White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools — a national conversation about transforming high schools to better serve all students.
NMSI CEO Matthew Randazzo is joining other invited educators, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and senior Obama Administration officials to help catalyze new thinking on the challenges and opportunities for better empowering students with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive. We believe that advancing STEM teaching and learning is critical to this effort and that transformation is possible within our current education system — inside existing school buildings and through our nation’s teaching core.
Proof lies in the success of our College Readiness Program which has now reached nearly 800 high schools from coast to coast. The program is dramatically increasing the number of students participating and succeeding in Advanced Placement coursework in math, science and English. In just one year, schools participating in the program show a 68 percent increase in the number of qualifying AP exam scores in these subjects — 10 times the national average. African-American and Hispanic students show an 80 percent increase and female students, a 67 percent increase.
Not only do AP courses introduce students to the rigors of college coursework, but research shows that students who succeed in demanding coursework are more likely than their peers to earn college degrees on time. Moreover, by challenging students to meet and even exceed high expectations, we’re also encouraging them to envision future careers and achievements they might not have considered otherwise.
That is why expanding the pool of students encouraged to take AP courses – particularly those traditionally underrepresented in STEM – should be a priority. And that is why, with more than $100M in new investments and associated matching funds, NMSI is committed to expanding the reach of the College Readiness Program to more than 1,000 schools and more than 1.5 million students in the coming years.
This work would not be possible without the recent support of a broad coalition of public and private partners including the U.S. Department of Defense, ExxonMobil, Peter O’Donnell and The O’Donnell Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, The Boeing Company, and Northrop Grumman. Their contributions are making a positive difference in communities across the country—and perhaps more importantly, are helping build the capacity of high schools big and small to become their own champions for change.