Students are fed breakfast and lunch and receive raffle tickets for a chance to win prizes.
The conference is just one of the many ways the program helps ready students for the AP exam.
“Teachers in the program have to do extra tutoring with kids throughout the year,” Passwater said. “We do … a mock exam. They do a full-length practice AP test in the spring that all kids in the program take and we grade them like the AP exam would. They can see before the exam what their strengths and weaknesses are so we can help them the last month.”
The students are also incentivized by getting the chance to earn $100 for every math, science, or English AP exam they pass, or what’s also known as getting a “qualifying score.”
The program also ensures teachers are provided with all the necessary tools.
“We provide a ton of training to teachers,” Passwater said. “We have a week-long training for our AP teachers. We have a week-long training for our pre-AP teachers. We have a two-day conference in the fall … and spring.”
The program’s success is evidenced by the numbers, he said.
After the first year, he said, AP scores increased in all subjects by 66 percent.
“For just math and science, which is the heart of the STEM issue, we improved by 114 percent,” Passwater said. “We more than doubled how many kids passed exams in our (original) nine schools.”
Ben Davis High School Administrator Mark Lile said this is a great opportunity for the school.
“This is our first year in the grant and it’s a three-year long grant,” he said. “This is the second of these events; the first one was hosted at Pike. We’re just incredibly excited to have this many students show up on a Saturday with bad weather. It shows dedication to learning that is really remarkable. We’re proud of our students and we’re excited about how they’ll do on the AP test coming up in the spring.”