Funding, Grants & Awards

$2 Million Grant To Fund Davidson College AP Instruction Pilot

The Davidson Next Initiative has received $2 million from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to extend a pilot program to create online instructional materials for some of the most difficult Advance Placement courses.

The initiative, a collaboration that includes Davidson College in Davidson, NC, edX, the College Board, 2Revolutions and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) School System, is creating instructional units with interactive assignments and video lessons that can be used in conjunction with classroom instruction for courses in calculus, physics and macroeconomics, subjects identified as the most challenging for both students and teachers.

Davidson College faculty members are guiding the development of the content of the instructional units, with help and advice from Charlotte-Mecklenburg district teachers who have taught the classes.

In the first year of the pilot program, four instructional units have been developed and distributed to 28 teachers in 20 high schools in the district. By the end of 2015, there will be 10 more units.

Each unit blends online learning with classroom discussion and practice with exercises and video lessons taught by experienced AP teachers from all over the United States.

"This partnership presents a unique opportunity for our students to access rigorous content in calculus, physics and macroeconomics," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark. "In addition, our high school teachers in these subjects have received incredible professional development."

After the instructional units are tested during the pilot program in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, they will launch on edx.org and be available free of charge to schools everywhere. The goal — and the reason the Laura and John Arnold Foundation made the contribution — is to assure that disadvantaged high school students have the same access to and are just as prepared to pass AP classes as any students.

"We believe that a level educational playing field for students from all backgrounds will go a long way to foster a culture in which individuals have the best chance to succeed and prosper," said Kelli Rhee, director of venture development for the foundation.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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