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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

UALR-based program receives $875,000 from Walton Foundation

The Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science (AAIMS) has received a $875,000 two-year grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

The AAIMS program was designed to increase enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) math, science and English courses in Arkansas public high schools, with the ultimate goal of increasing qualifying scores on AP exams taken by high school students.

The AAIMS program is housed at UALR.

Students who earn qualifying scores on AP tests can receive college credit.

According to AAIMS President Tommie Sue Anthony, the program’s effectiveness is not only supported by data – partner high schools continuously show dramatic increases in the number of qualifying scores – but it is also the best program in the country for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

“A non-profit organization of more than 100 Fortune 500 companies selected AAIMS as the number one model for STEM education and recommended it because of its proven success,” said Anthony.

“We are extremely grateful to the Walton Foundation for their support of this vital program,” she said.

Until the Tuesday’s announcement, the program only had enough funding left for the 2012-2013 school year. The program, in partnership with UALR, was initially funded by a grant from the National Math and Science Initiative with major support from ExxonMobil, the Gates Foundation, and the Dell Foundation.

The AAIMS program provides teachers with the skills and support to encourage students to succeed in pre-AP and AP coursework, a contributing factor in college success.

The model includes enhanced teacher professional development, teacher and student incentives, Saturday test prep sessions, and lead teachers in each of the three content areas.

The original grant established AAIMS on the UALR campus, with a goal of increasing the number of students taking and scoring 3 or higher on AP math, science and English exams by implementing proven strategies to increase significantly the number of students taking and passing AP courses and exams.

Dramatic increases have resulted since implementing the model in school districts across the state, and one of every four minority students in Arkansas who made a qualifying score in math, science, or English come from AAIMS partner high schools.

“This is only the beginning,” said Anthony. “We look forward to even greater results in the future … this will ultimately contribute to our state’s economic growth.”

The structure of AAIMS, which replicates a similar non-profit in Texas, identifies UALR as the primary supporting partner and includes the collaboration of the Arkansas Department of Education and the office of the Governor of the State of Arkansas.