ACS expanding monetary bonuses for test scores

The Alabaster City School Board voted to expand the system's monetary stipends tied to AP classes. (File)

The Alabaster City School Board voted to expand the system’s monetary stipends tied to AP classes. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster students in all Advanced Placement classes will have more incentive to pass the AP exam and earn early college credits after the city’s Board of Education agreed to expand monetary bonuses tied to the classes.

During a Feb. 9 meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to fund stipends tied to Advanced Placement social sciences, art and foreign language classes at Thompson High School.

The School Board also agreed to provide subsidies for students who otherwise would not be able to afford to take the AP exams.

AP classes are available to students who qualify for them, and are more rigorous than other classroom offerings at the school. At the end of the class, students can take an AP exam to earn college credits before even graduating from high school.

Through an A+ College Ready grant the School System received in the spring of 2014, ACS began offering $100 bonuses to students who earned passing scores on AP exams and $100 stipends to teachers for each student who earned a passing AP score.

The A+ College Ready Grant covered stipends for students and teachers in the school’s math, science and English classes. As a result of the Feb. 9 vote, ACS will pay about $25,000 to cover stipends for teachers and students in the AP social sciences, art and foreign language classes, which were not covered by the grant, said ACS Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers.

“We are just replicating what was covered under the A+ College Ready grant. It’s a great incentive,” Vickers said. “This puts all of our AP courses on a level playing field.”

The Board of Education also agreed to pay about $8,000 to cover testing costs for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to take the tests.

“This is not something that most school systems do,” said ACS Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Cena Davis. “We want to make sure we are offering all of our AP students that opportunity.”