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For Immediate Release: March 10, 2008
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

South Dakota selected to pilot online program in math and science

The National Math and Science Initiative has selected South Dakota to pilot a statewide program online that could become a standard for improving math and science education in the United States. Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard made the announcement today at an event held at the Parker School.

The NMSI grant, supported by ExxonMobil, is for $2 million over the course of the pilot. If successful, the pilot could provide a model for improving student achievement in rural and sparsely populated states across the nation, according to state officials.

“As a nation, we need to ramp up our efforts to challenge students to take more rigorous coursework in math and science, and to excel in those areas,” Lt. Governor Daugaard said. “This grant allows South Dakota the chance to do its part in preparing students who have advanced knowledge and skills in critical subject areas.”

Under the innovative new program, South Dakota high school students are encouraged to take the Advanced Placement ™ courses in math, science and English and can earn $100 for each course they pass.

While some South Dakota schools, especially larger ones, are able to offer Advanced Placement™ courses, many are not. The new pilot program aims to increase access to these courses by making them available via the South Dakota Virtual School.

“South Dakota was selected for this pilot because of its strong leadership and commitment to advanced study for its students,” said Tom Luce, the CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative. “The most successful partnerships are those that benefit all partners. Piloting this model for rural states, while improving student access in South Dakota to rigorous math and science courses is a unique opportunity.”

Beginning in the fall of 2008, high school students will be able to choose from seven AP™ courses offered via the South Dakota Virtual School. The courses include AP Calculus AB, AP English Literature and Composition, AP English Language and Composition, AP Biology, AP Physics B, AP Statistics, and AP Chemistry. If the student passes the course exam with a 3 or higher, the program pays the student $100.

In addition, the teachers of students who receive passing scores on any of these exams also receive $100. Twenty-five teachers will be selected to teach the courses, all of which will be online. Teachers will be selected based on a record of successfully integrating technology into their teaching methods.

“This program engages teachers and students as partners in achieving academic success as well as sharing in the award funds,” said Dr. Jim Parry, project director. “With these courses under their belts, the pilot program positions South Dakota students for greater success as they enter college or technical programs.”

The new initiative is an effort of the South Dakota Collaborative for Advanced Placement, whose membership includes leaders from the government, education and business communities.

The National Math and Science Initiative was launched in 2007 in response to the National Academies blue-ribbon report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” which warned that declining math and science achievement in the U.S. is threatening American competitiveness and security. The mission of NMSI is to improve math and science education in the United States by expanding programs such as the Advanced Placement training and incentives. The lead sponsor for the initiative is the Exxon Mobil Corporation, with additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

"AP" and "Advanced Placement" are trademarks of The College Board.