Campaign Aims to Draw Women, Minorities to AP STEM Classes

Thanks to a $5 million grant from Google, the College Board is announcing a new program aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minorities and women in Advanced Placement science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. The Google grant, which was given as part of the Global Impact Awards to DonorsChoose.org, will allow it to reach [...]

Thanks to a $5 million grant from Google, the College Board is announcing a new program aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minorities and women in Advanced Placement science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. The Google grant, which was given as part of the Global Impact Awards to DonorsChoose.org, will allow it to reach over 800 high schools around the country that will be able to offer a new AP mathematics or science course in the coming year. Texas alone, with the largest number of qualifying schools, will be able to kick off AP classes in over 140 high schools state-wide.

In addition, the funding will allow AP STEM Access to create an outreach program that will seek to identify minority and women students with strong academic backgrounds to take on this challenge as a possible prerequisite to choosing a STEM-related major in college and going on to enter tech or engineering-based careers.

The College Board is collaborating with DonorsChoose.org to work directly with AP teachers in qualifying schools to help them obtain the classroom resources and professional development they need to start new courses. The AP Program offers willing and academically prepared high school students the opportunity to study at the college level, enabling them to develop the critical thinking skills necessary for college success.

Creating opportunities for engagement for female and traditionally underrepresented minority high schoolers could go far to counteract the factors that discourage them from taking STEM courses or pursuing STEM careers. Some suspect that it is a lack of engagement during high school that keep them from pursuing such majors when they go on to college.

For example, participation in AP course work in mathematics varies widely among students who have the same high academic potential to succeed on an AP mathematics exam. In 2011, only 3 in 10 black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students, and 2 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students participated in AP mathematics courses.

Although there were many instances when the interest in taking more advanced math and science courses was there, but the classes simply weren’t available, in schools where this wasn’t the case, more than half of the students taking AP Computer Science, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry and several other science and technology courses were male.

Research shows that students who took AP math and science were more likely than non-AP students to earn degrees in physical science, engineering and life science disciplines — the fields leading to some of the careers essential for America’s future prosperity. This correlation is particularly strong among African American, Hispanic/Latino and female students.

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