Plainfield South High School has been awarded a grant made possible by Google to help develop additional Advanced Placement math, science and technology courses.
Plainfield South was selected as one of 14 schools in Illinois and 800 in the nation to participate in the AP STEM Access program to develop Advanced Placement, or college-level, courses aimed at getting girls and minorities interested in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, District 202 officials announced this week.
The AP STEM Access program is being funded by a $5 million grant from Google to DonorsChoose.org as part of Google’s global impact awards to help encourage African-American, Latino, American-Indian and female students to pursue science and technology as potential college majors or careers.
Plainfield South was given a portion of the grant based on its performance on the PSAT exam administered last fall. The results indicated that the school has a significant number of underrepresented minority or female students who are prepared for rigorous AP coursework. The school also qualified for the grant because it serves communities with a median household income of $100,000 or less and has 40 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals.
The grant of up to $9,000 will help provide start-up funds for classroom resources, lab materials and staff development. The funds will also help teachers participate in summer training, said Glenn Wood, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
Plainfield South High School will launch the new AP courses -- AP calculus BC and AP computer science -- in the fall and remain committed to the new classes for three years. The classes have to have at least 10 students to run, Wood said.
“We’re proud Plainfield South has been recognized for this,” Wood said.
Plainfield South Principal David Travis said the school expects interest in its AP calculus courses to triple over the next few years, adding he is excited to be taking part in the initiative.
Travis said he wants to open students’ eyes to the potential job opportunities that await after high school and college and get them excited about courses in math and computer science.
Plainfield South has seen more students participating in Advanced Placement courses, district officials said. In the last five years, there’s been a 16 percent increase in the number of students taking the AP exam, which gives the students a chance to earn college credit.
During this time, the number of students scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP exam has risen from 58 percent to 68 percent, district officials said. The national average last year was 59 percent.