In recent weeks, rural Mississippi high school students in the Global Teaching Project’s Advanced STEM Access Program completed a full year of study by taking Advanced Placement (AP)® exams in some of the most challenging subjects offered—AP Physics 1, AP Biology, and AP Computer Science Principles.
AP courses prepare students for college rigor, enhance admission prospects, and can reduce tuition costs by enabling students to earn college credit prior to enrollment. Yet the benefits of APs are largely denied to the very students most in need of educational opportunity.
In particular, AP offerings in critical STEM disciplines are simply unavailable to students, however talented, in the nation’s most rural and impoverished communities.
Last year, fewer than 0.3 percent of Mississippi public high school students took either the AP Physics 1 or AP Computer Science Principles exam. The figure for AP Biology was just a few tenths of a percent higher. Moreover, the students taking those tests, other than those working with the Global Teaching Project, were almost all from a handful of relatively comfortable enclaves.
By taking those rigorous courses and exams, GTP students earned a place among that very small and highly accomplished group. By taking those courses and exams at schools that serve some of the state’s most impoverished areas, those students blazed a trail for others, and affirmed that students from all backgrounds could, and should, aspire to academic excellence.
The results of those exams will not be known for a while. However, students in GTP’s AP STEM courses already have succeeded. They learned much substantive content, and developed skills needed to take on challenging tasks. In the process, those students often came to view themselves differently, and embraced new ambitions.
Going forward, the Global Teaching Project will continue to focus on students with great promise in areas of particular need.
In 2021-2022, GTP’s Advanced STEM Access Program doubled the number of schools served, and added to its course subjects, dramatically increasing critical AP offerings throughout rural Mississippi. As a result, over half of the AP Physics 1 classes offered in Mississippi public schools—and 100 percent of AP Physics classes offered in the state’s 30 most impoverished counties—were offered through the Global Teaching Project, as were a substantial, and rapidly growing, share of other AP STEM courses. In 2022-2023, GTP’s reach will expand further.
Congratulations to our students for all they have achieved. Their work, and ours, is only beginning.