Ten Connecticut school districts will take steps to encourage more students to take high-level science, math and English courses under a $13.2 million grant announced Thursday.
Connecticut is one of seven states awarded grants from the National Math and Science Initiative to bolster math and science education and promote interest in careers in the sciences and technology.
"It's a huge grant. It's an important one," said Richard Cole, president and CEO of the Connecticut Academy for Education in Mathematics Science and Technology.
The grant was awarded to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association's Education Foundation in partnership with the academy, the Connecticut Science Center, and the state departments of education and higher education.
The grant will help pay for teacher training and incentive programs to help students succeed in Advanced Placement and pre-Advanced Placement high school courses and exams, officials said. The Advanced Placement program is operated by the College Board, and students can earn college credits by passing Advanced Placement exams.
The grant targets schools where students have had limited access to the advanced courses or have not enrolled in significant numbers.
The rigorous courses require students to put in "a lot of extra effort, but the rewards can be lifelong," Cole said. "So many parents don't understand. They think [Advanced Placement] is just for rich kids."
CBIA officials said the association plans to work with high schools in Ansonia, Coventry, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, New Britain, New London, Putnam, Stamford and Waterbury.
The National Math and Science Initiative is a nonprofit group created in response to a 2005 report by the National Academy of Sciences, which warned that America is in danger of losing its standing as a world leader in science and technology.
"This grant will develop programs to help close the achievement gap between our urban and suburban districts and prepare today's students to participate in tomorrow's workforce - a workforce that will be a major source of high-tech innovation, wealth creation and exciting opportunities," CBIA President and CEO John R. Rathgeber said in a press release.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell said the grant addresses the need for innovation and talent in the workplace.
"Success in the global economy depends upon having an adaptable work force grounded in math and the sciences," she said in a statement.
Initial funding for the Dallas-based National Math and Science Initiative is from ExxonMobil, which is providing $125 million.
CBIA, which has 10,000 member companies, lobbies state government on behalf of Connecticut businesses.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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