Grant To Allow For More Early Placement Testing

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A $585,000 federal grant will help increase the number of Nevada students taking advanced placement tests, Rep. Jim Gibbons and education officials said Friday.

In announcing the funding in Carson City, Gibbons, R-Nev., cited a tenfold increase in the number of students across the state taking advanced placement courses since 2001. High school students taking certain higher level classes can earn college credit if they score well enough on the advanced placement tests.

Accompanied by federal and state education officials, Gibbons also praised Bush administration education policy and said the funding will be especially helpful to low-income students .

"In the spirit of No Child Left Behind, this funding today will enable Nevada to better make sure every child can reach their highest potential," the congressman said.

The Advanced Placement Incentive Grant is to be used for teacher development, including workshops offered by the College Board, which oversees advanced placement testing.

A second grant covers most of the $82 test fee for low-income students.

Nevada will use the money to expand its advanced placement programs, said Jacquelyn Moore, grant coordinator for the state education department.

Since 2001, the number of low-income students taking advanced placement tests in Nevada has risen from 73 to 769, Moore said. The number of low-income students enrolling in advanced placement classes increased almost nine-fold.

Gibbons noted that 20 percent more Nevada students took advanced placement tests in 2003 compared with 2002. The increase nationally was 9 percent.

However, Nevada's overall student performance on advanced placement exams has not increased as much. The state remains below the national average in scores and the percentage of students earning the minimum score needed for college credit.

Advanced placement exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. Students who score a 3 or higher are typically eligible for college credit.

Since 2000, the state's average academic placement score has ranged from 2.8 to 2.86. The national average in 2003 was 2.95.

Last year, 57 percent of Nevada high school students who took advanced placement tests scored at least a 3. Nationally, the percentage was 61.5.

Advanced placement exams are offered in more than 30 subjects, including English, math, science and foreign languages.