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Durango High School advance-placement students earn Christmas bonuses

Grant program pays kids for acing Advanced Placement tests

More students are taking Advanced Placement classes at Durango High School, and one of the main reasons is the school’s involvement with a grant program that helps students, teachers and the school with equipment, professional development assistance, extra study sessions, mock exams and even small monetary awards.

For the past two years, DHS has partnered with the Colorado Education Initiative and its Legacy Grant program. The grant aims to increase the number of students taking Advance Placement courses and who earn qualifying scores on the AP exam.

The grant provides the school money for technology and equipment. Teachers receive paid professional development and bonuses for increasing enrollment in Advance Placement classes. Students receive Saturday study sessions, a full-length mock exam and, perhaps the biggest incentive of all for a high school student, $100 for every math, science or English AP test they pass.

Of special emphasis for the Colorado Education Initiative is to increase participation and performance for low-income students and students of color in the AP program.

At DHS, 188 students earned a qualifying score in math, science and English, totaling $27,000 in student performance awards. Students were paid between $100 for passing one exam to up to $400 for passing four exams.

Fifty-seven of the 188 have already graduated, and DHS intends to have their checks for them to pick up in the counseling office later this month.

Julia Popp, spokeswoman for Durango School District 9-R, said in an email, “It should be a nice surprise for 57 starving college students home for the holidays.”

The number of DHS students who took an AP exam has grown steadily since 2015, when 131 took the exam. In 2016, 179 students took the exam, and in 2017, the number reached 303.

The checks paid this month go to students for their performance in spring 2017. Students who qualify in spring 2018 will be paid again a year from now.

DHS offered 15 Advance Placement courses this year. New courses added this year included: AP World History, AP Computer Science A, AP Psychology and AP Human Geography. The school also has offered AP Spanish Language, but it didn’t have enough students for a class this year.


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