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Featured Project: AdvanceKentucky

In 2008, the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, in partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative, created AdvanceKentucky, a statewide math-science initiative dedicated to helping Kentucky's students reach new heights in rigorous academic achievement.  To accomplish this, AdvanceKentucky's mission is to reach out to populations traditionally underrepresented in Advanced Placement courses and expand access to these classes while increasing student participation and success. More recently, to continue this effort, AdvanceKentucky is proud to partner with the Kentucky Department of Education and, to date, 64 public high schools with additional sponsorship from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Council on Postsecondary Education, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Berea College and Kentucky Downs, all of which are committed to dramatically increasing the college readiness of many more Kentucky students.

Much of this support is due to the data from the first three years of the program.  AdvanceKentucky has repeatedly demonstrated that Kentucky students are capable of performing at much higher levels of academic rigor, if provided an integrated support system. For example, students in 44 Kentucky high schools in the program during the 2010-2011 school year earned 3,526 passing scores on the 2011 AP math, science and English exams, an increase of 40.6 percent above the previous year and well above state increases of 14.9 percent and the national rate of 8.1 percent. This means that AdvanceKentucky schools performed at five times the national rate. Even more revealing is that they contributed 83 percent of Kentucky's new AP passing scores in all subjects statewide, although they account for only 22 percent of the junior-senior enrollments statewide. For the second consecutive year, AdvanceKentucky's impact on AP scores earned by minority students has allowed Kentucky to surpass the national rate on related performance metrics.

With nearly 16,000 enrollments for the 2011-2012 school year among the 64 Kentucky high schools, and at least 500 AP teachers and 1,000 Pre-AP teachers currently involved, AdvanceKentucky is currently reviewing school applications for its fifth cohort. The program hopes to serve 50 percent of Kentucky high schools for the 2014-2015 school year.  To date, the greatest challenge faced by AdvanceKentucky has been convincing stakeholders that all students can succeed at high levels without challenging the rigor of the coursework. Creating a culture of expectation rather than acclimation is the single greatest hurdle a school faces when seeking to transform its culture. To reach this level of success, schools must not just accept but must embrace the ideas of inclusion, expectation, and equity. When these three ideas meet we find repeatedly, at both the teacher and the student level, that talent already resides in the state; it just needs to be developed.

Submitted by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation
Feburary 2012