Do the math | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Do the math

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 11:56 AM

The Walton Family Foundation has contributed $2.9 million toward matching requirements for a $13 million grant to an organization based at UALR that is working to improve high school students' math and science knowledge.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 25, 2009) – The Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville will provide a $2.9 million grant to  help the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Sciences (AAIMS) match the $13.2 million received last year from ExxonMobil to participate in the National Math and Science Initiative.
Tommie Sue Anthony, president of the UALR-based non-profit organization, said the Walton gift will provide approximately half of Arkansas’ local match requirement necessary for the state to continue to participate in the national initiative’s mission to reverse America’s troubling decline in math and science education.
“This generous commitment by the Walton Family Foundation will help Arkansas produce more students prepared to major in science, engineering, and mathematics by increasing the number of students enrolling in academically rigorous AP classes and increasing student scores on the Advanced Placement examinations in those areas,” Anthony said.
Last year, the national Math and Science Initiative selected a grant proposal written by UALR Professor Ann Robinson to be one of the six state-based plans for initial NMSI funding.
The UALR plan established AAIMS to put in place a five-year plan to increase both the enrollment in AP math, science, and English and the number of scores of 3-5 on Advanced Placement exams. The plan expands a program with proven results that greatly increases the number of students succeeding in the rigorous Advanced Placement coursework and exams and greatly increases the number of students graduating from college.
“The monetary incentives for students will make a difference with students who are traditionally underrepresented in AP classes,” Anthony said. The AP training and incentive program also dramatically increases college readiness.
“Students scoring a 3, 4, or 5 on AP exams are three times more likely to earn a college degree than students  who do not  make scores of 3 or better or who do not take the exam,” Anthony said. “African-American and Hispanic students who score a 3 or better are four times more likely to earn a college degree than those who do not.”
 Key elements of the AAIMS program provide:
·        Formal training to upgrade the content knowledge of math, science and English teachers currently in the classroom
·        Experienced “lead teachers” to coach other AP and Pre-AP teachers
·        Financial incentives for teachers and students based on results
·        Open enrollment to provide opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds
·        More time on task for students through prep sessions and after-school tutoring
·        High standards with accountability for results
The first 10 high schools to begin work with AAIMS in the 2008-2009 school year are: Booneville, El Dorado, Greenbrier, Greene County Tech, Lake Hamilton, Wilbur Mills University Studies, Newport, Little Rock Parkview, Springdale, and Springdale Har-Ber. Gov. Mike Beebe is expected to announce in March another 14 schools to be added to the program for 2009-2010.
The Walton Family Foundation pursues a philanthropic mission based on Helen and Sam Walton’s strong belief in the power of an individual to make a positive difference in his or her own life and community.
Sam and Helen Walton’s philosophy of giving is based on life-long experiences in small town Northwest Arkansas that teach the value of personal engagement and involvement, the power of education in society, and that making philanthropic investments should make an appreciable difference in communities.
“Arkansas students need to prepare to compete in a highly competitive global market.  For many careers and jobs in the future, mathematics and science will be the ticket to the game,” said UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson. “I am grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for their investment in raising the achievement levels of students in these critical needs areas.”

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