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$1M to boost AP course program

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New Mexico’s Advanced Placement program is getting a cash infusion in hopes of recruiting more Hispanic and American Indian high school students to enroll in AP courses.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday afternoon at Bernalillo High School that the nonprofit College Board, which administers the AP program, was giving New Mexico $1 million to expand its AP program, and the state has allocated $750,000, which is $250,000 more than it allocated each of the past two years.

Martinez was joined by New Mexico education chief Hanna Skandera and members of College Board.

“I truly believe New Mexico students have the potential to succeed if given the opportunity,” Martinez said. “This would double the number of students, including Hispanics and Native Americans, taking these courses.”

Advanced Placement courses are more rigorous than regular classes and offered in a variety of subjects, including the core subjects of math, science and English. Offerings at a specific high school can depend on funding, availability of a qualified instructor to teach the course and student interest. Students can take a test, for $89 each, at the end of each course, and those who score well can earn college credit.

College Board regional vice president Richard Middleton said the College Board wants to see a more diverse student population in their courses.

“New Mexico has a great opportunity to attract employers in the science and medical fields,” he said. “We have to create the intellectual horsepower to attract them. An educated workforce brings businesses to the state.”

Skandera said the $1.75 million will be used for professional development, to print materials used to recruit students in English, Spanish and Diné, and for test-fee waivers for low-income students.

Martinez said the state will focus on expanding course offerings to mostly rural areas that do not currently offer AP courses. She said AP courses prepare students for college and potentially save families thousands of dollars in tuition.

“There is limited room in AP courses at some high schools,” she said. “We could potentially double the number of students taking these classes by expanding course offerings.”

Martinez said 10,900 of this year’s graduating seniors “showed strong potential,” based on their PSAT (pre-SAT) scores, to succeed in an AP course, but only 40 percent of them enrolled in an AP class.

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