More Andress Eagles will be ready to tackle college and STEM careers thanks to a $128,464 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, officials announced on this week.
The campus is participating in a two-year college readiness program from the National Math and Science Initiative, a non-profit organization that advances STEM education among campuses that have a significant number of military-connected students enrolled.
“The college readiness program really focuses on building a system around the Advanced Placement program to increase access to the rigorous STEM curriculum,” said Shannon Manion, manager of the NMSI Military Families Mission. “Teachers are trained so that they can more effectively reach a wider pool of students.”
Manion joined military and EPISD leadership to announce the grant program before students, the band and cheerleaders.
“We’re really excited to have that opportunity here for Andress High School and we’re moving towards more of a culture of college and career readiness. This is just another step forward for our kids,” said principal Joseph Mango. “It gives us more of an understanding of how to align our AP coursework so that we’re able to serve our students in a way that they’re more prepared to get that college credit and gives our staff an opportunity to enhance their skills to be able to better serve our military community.”
Manion explained that the focus is AP coursework because of its universal opportunities – especially for military students who often transition from school to school in some cases to different states and countries.
“AP is the golden ticket because as military families we know that that it will transfer anywhere we go in the world,” she said. “Even if you transfer in the middle of the year, another school is going to accept you into their AP class.”
Andress students also see the benefits that the NMSI program brings to the campus.
“This grant is really exciting for students who are taking AP courses because it gives us more resources and it makes us feel more confident knowing that we have that support of the National Math and Science Initiative,” said senior Andrea Bazan, who is currently enrolled in three AP courses. “Most of our students can’t afford college out of pocket so it’s really important to try and get that college credit from doing the AP classes. It’s an awesome opportunity for us and we are taking advantage of it.”
Students taking AP courses can challenge the exam at the end of the course for college credit. Students receiving at least a three on the exam’s 1-5 scale typically receive college credit. However, each university has its own standard on what score it will accept for credit.
Manion explained that even if a student doesn’t get a 3 on the exam, it still gives them an advantage in college.
“A score of two does not earn them college credit, but studies have shown that they are retained in college,” Manion said. “They graduate from college at the same rate as a 3. It’s that access to that the curriculum, the tenacity, the grit — all of the things it takes in those courses — is what really makes them more college-ready. If they’re college-ready, they’re career ready.”
Video by Raymond Jackson – EPISD