MIDWEST CITY — The Del City High School auditorium was a busy place on Tuesday as 300 advanced placement math, science and English teachers from across the nation gathered to begin training for the National Math and Science Initiative.
The program trains teachers to prepare students who come from military families to take advanced placement tests that could provide them with college credit.
“It's a big deal for the student. It cuts their college costs and prepares them for the classes they will take in college,” said Susan Holloway, an advanced placement calculus teacher from Ohio. “A lot of these kids enter into college as sophomores.”
The senior director of programs for NMSI, Dale Fleury, said providing students with strong math and science skills is especially important in the modern world.
“Eighty-six million baby boomers will be retiring in the near future. Some companies will be retraining 100 percent of their workforce. So the job market is great for the next generation. But eight out of 10 jobs will require high levels of math and science skills that are not implemented in today's public schools,” Fleury said.
After school administrators request a grant for the program, the money comes in part from the Department of Defense Education Activity and in part from school and district funding.
The return, Fleury said, is tenfold.
“Our schools average a 79 percent increase in test scores after the first year of NMSI training compared to the national annual increase of 12 percent,” he said.
Recent Del City High School graduate, Lillian Docquin, said her NMSI teachers gave her the academic training to succeed in college and also the guidance to do so.
“I took AP government, calculus and English,” Docquin said. “I could not have been better prepared for the AP tests.”
Docquin said she attended the Saturday classes offered throughout the year for extra practice for the AP exams.
When her high school bio-tech teacher suggested she study engineering in college, Docquin began making plans.
She will attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall and plans to major in chemical engineering.
Mid-Del's Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning, Silvya Kirk, said through NMSI educational progress is being made.
“John F. Kennedy said something like, ‘You can judge the progress of a nation based on the progress of its education,'” she said. “The numbers show that progress is being made here.”
Kirk first wrote the grant to attain funding in 2010 when she served as principal for Carl Albert High School.
After the grant was approved for Carl Albert, all other Mid-Del schools began participating. Lawton public schools soon followed.
“What's really amazing now is that we are starting to prepare students for AP classes when they are in third grade. We're changing the way that we teach the curriculum so that the classes build upon each other.”
The result, Fleury said, is an abundance of students finding interests in advanced classes, graduating with the knowledge needed to compete on an international level and thereby strengthening their local communities and the overall economy for years to come.
Kirk said one aspect of NMSI is positive reinforcement. Each student who passes an advanced placement test in a course associated with NMSI receives $100.
Fleury said when students are exposed to advanced training and education, they begin to believe they can succeed in AP classes.
“What's happening here is we're increasing the amount of students who enroll in AP classes. We're breaking barriers.”
To learn more about the National Math and Science Initiative visit www.nms.org.