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Funds Running Out For Kentucky's Advanced Placement Support Program

Kentucky is first in the nation for improving its rate of qualifying scores on Advanced Placement tests since 2008, say officials who testified to the Kentucky Board of Education Wednesday.

The commonwealth is also second in the nation for its rate increase for just math and science AP scores and officials are giving credit to the state's AP initiative AdvanceKentucky, which provides teacher training and other resources to encourage AP enrollment for all students.The number of Jefferson County Public Schools being served by AdvanceKentucky will double next school year, but the program that currently serves around 45 schools in the state is losing its major funding source in October and the program will serve less schools in this upcoming cohort than ever before.Currently, AdvanceKentucky is working with Valley, Moore and Waggener high schools in JCPS. Next, year it’ll begin working with Fern Creek, Seneca and Southern high schools.AdvanceKentucky’s goal is to provide services to all schools (which want them) by 2020 and 50 percent of schools by 2014. But it’s coming up short due to a lack of funding, officials says.“It’s not because we don’t have a long waiting list of schools that would like to participate, but we’ve had to slow....down because of the initial cost it takes to get involved,” says KDE associate commissioner Felicia Smith, a liaison to AdvanceKentucky.At its inception in 2008, the National Math and Science Initiative—which partnered with AdvanceKentucky—has provided the program $13 million to get up and running. Kentucky was one of six NMSI grant winners nationwide that were supported to improve AP participation.Over that period the state has also invested $6 million in the program, which has helped increase AP enrollment to around 18,000 students, officials say.NMSI officials say the program is meant to sustain services for three years, after which the schools are expected to develop local support structures to continue.“But after the three years it’s a very modest cost because once you train the teachers, once you change the culture of expectations in the schools, the sustainability after that doesn’t need a large investment,” says NMSI’s Gregg Fleisher.The cost of the services provided by Advance Kentucky is around $250 per student, or around $100,000 per school, officials say.AdvanceKentucky officials say they expected to use Race to the Top federal grant funds to help meet demand for the program. After failing to win the full grant—Kentucky was awarded a smaller portion of Race to the Top funds—it has since relied on lawmakers and the Kentucky Department of Education.At Wednesdays' meeting, officials told the board that lawmakers were aware of the success of the program, and that they hoped they would find ways to continue funding the program.