The uncertainties created by the pandemic as well as the inconsistencies in communities’ capacity to ensure an equitable response on behalf of underserved students create an increase in the education gap and exacerbate racial and social inequalities. Mi’s AP STEM & English Program is addressing this critical equity issue in communities across the Commonwealth through a unique partnership with Massachusetts high schools that increases and diversifies underserved students’ participation and drives success in the AP coursework that will prepare students for college and career.
Through this program, Mi provides thousands of underserved students across Massachusetts with critical support services and subsidies in order to diminish equity gaps in advanced academics and ensure that all students are prepared for college and career success, including:
- Saturday Study Sessions: Throughout the course of the year, motivated students commit their Saturday mornings to dive deep into course content – providing them with additional instruction time in order to allow for a greater level of comprehension. We work closely with teachers in our partner schools to ensure that sessions are tailored to the needs of their students, and we staff these sessions by tapping into our network of educators from across the Commonwealth – providing students with multiple perspectives with respect to their curriculum. During the 2020-21 school year, we will be holding these sessions in a virtual environment to will ensure that students continue to benefit from this crucial service despite distance learning. This shift will allow Mi to further diversify the pool of talent from which we are able to choose for session presenters – as the virtual platform eliminates geographic barriers presented by in-person sessions – and it will allow for a greater flexibility of scheduling, with multiple sessions held on differents days and times.
- Mock AP Exams: Facilitated by Mi once per school year (per subject area), mock AP exams provide students with experiential learning by exposing them to previous years’ AP exam questions in an environment that simulates exam conditions. These exams are then graded by Mi staff (who are themselves current or former “readers” for the College Board – grading actual exams in the Spring and Summer), and their work is provided to the teachers and students. This feedback is invaluable, as it allows students to identify areas of strengths and further improvement and for teachers to adjust their instruction to meet these needs.
- Exam Fee Subsidies: All AP students in Mi partner schools who qualify as “low-income” are provided with a subsidy that reduces the cost of their exam to $15 (from upwards of $100). This is a vital element of our program’s impact on equity in advanced academics, as it ensures that a student’s financial situation is not a factor in his or her ability to participate in – and receive the benefits of – AP courses.
Partnership in supporting these student services comes at a critical time. During the 2019-2020 school year, Massachusetts made more students eligible for AP exam fee subsidies. To meet this increased need, we redirected program funds to ensure newly eligible students received exam fee subsidies. Now we are seeking to close the funding gap to provide students and teachers with the program supports they need to succeed in AP STEM & English classes in 2020-2021 while still providing all eligible students with exam fee subsidies for the opportunity to earn college credit in high school.
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Massachusetts Students Lead Nation in Advanced Placement Success for Fourth Year
Excerpt from Press Release, February 6, 2020
Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley (said), “I’m grateful to everyone who has helped, including our partner, Mass Insight, and I look forward to working together to address opportunity gaps and see even more students succeed in AP classes.”
Advanced Placement teachers in Massachusetts include 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Takeru Nagayoshi, who teaches AP English classes at New Bedford High School. He has also led Saturday sessions for students at schools that Mass Insight supports.
“Our state is taking access to AP work seriously, with an added emphasis on supporting students from underserved backgrounds,” said Mr. Nagayoshi. “While we have a long way to go, I’m proud to represent a state and work alongside [Mass Insight] that commits to advanced academic access for all its students.”