TI Foundation gives $1.5 million to expand Dallas ISD AP program

Last year, 23 students in Rachmad Tjachyadi’s Advanced Placement (AP) chemistry classes at W.T. White High School in Dallas achieved qualifying scores on the AP chemistry exam, earning cash for themselves and their teacher.

Tjachyadi, who students call “Mr. T,” said “the $100 incentive works really well to get students into my classroom after school for tutoring and on Saturday at Starbucks to study together. Once they realize that $100 also means they get college credit it is worth more than $100 to them.”

Sam Self, chairman of the TI Foundation (at right), talks with high school teacher Rachmad Tjachyadi.

The Advanced Placement Incentive Program (APIP), which has financially rewarded Dallas students at some schools for passing the rigorous college-level tests, is being expanded to all 32 of the Dallas Independent School District’s (ISD) high schools thanks to a three-year $1.5 million grant from the TI Foundation.

The grant, along with continuing support from the O'Donnell Foundation and the Dallas ISD, will expand the APIP starting this school year and help the district pass a milestone of 10,000 students benefiting from the program.

The APIP was envisioned by Dallas philanthropist and education supporter Peter O'Donnell, Jr., initiated by the O'Donnell Foundation in 1996. It also has been supported by the TI Foundation since 2000.

Supporting rigor
To date, the program has given financial incentives to 9,926 students in 17 high schools who might otherwise not have taken Pre-AP classes, taken AP courses and passed more than 16,000 AP tests. The program also funds incentives to teachers and schools to teach the rigorous courses that increase students' college readiness.

"The incentive program has helped me tremendously to grow as an AP teacher," said Tjachyadi. "This program has not only given me the resources to be successful, but it has helped establish the culture of rigorous academia."

The program's goals are to have more Dallas ISD students, reflecting the diversity of the district, take and pass AP exams in math, science and English, and to increase the number of students enrolled in Pre-AP and AP classes.

In 2010, students in Dallas ISD passed 1,882 AP math, science, and English exams, up from 158 in 1995.

Under the new grant agreement, the TI Foundation will provide monetary incentives for participating students, AP teachers, lead teachers, principals and campuses, and the O'Donnell Foundation will fund student incentives for 15 of the high schools. Dallas ISD will fund lead teacher salaries, and part of the stipend, teacher training costs and student exam fees, and education non-profit organization Advanced Placement Strategies (APS) will monitor and report results.

Dallas philanthropist Peter O’Donnell (center) visits with Dallas high school students during a recent event announcing the expansion of the Advanced Placement Incentive Program in the Dallas school district.

Focus on teachers, students
At a recent community reception at Hillcrest High School, Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa spoke about the APIP's impact on teachers, students and schools. The district and the TI Foundation recognized the contributions of Peter O'Donnell, the Dallas philanthropist and education supporter who started the program that is being replicated across the country by the National Math & Science Initiative (NMSI). See photos and video from the event.

"The AP Incentive program, started in Dallas 15 years ago, has helped so many of our students begin college with countless credit hours out of the way," Hinojosa said. "More than that, the rigorous coursework at the high school level prepares them for success during college.

"This program also rewards high school teachers for encouraging their students to achieve at top levels. Thanks go to Peter O'Donnell for envisioning and continuing to support this program, but also to the TI Foundation for extending it to all of our high schools."

O'Donnell said that the success of the APIP is a result of dedicated teachers who engender confidence in their students to learn to a higher standard.

Motivation key
Sam Self, chairman of the TI Foundation, said: "This program is about retaining experienced, effective teachers in Dallas ISD as well as encouraging students to take rigorous coursework and motivating them to study and pass AP tests. By extending the program to all 32 schools this year, we expect to have an even greater impact."

AP teachers receive $100 for each student's AP math, science and English exam score of 3 or over and an additional $100 per qualifying score for meeting a campus target course goal set by APS. Students at all Dallas ISD high Schools receive $100 for qualifying scores on the exams. Both the TI Foundation and the O'Donnell Foundation contribute to student incentives.

"The AP Incentive program allowed me to start my college career as a sophomore at the University of Michigan," said Dr. Todd Coleman, now an assistant professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "As a result, I was able to win the College of Engineering's Senior Class Prize with a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering and attend graduate school at MIT. I simply cannot thank the AP Incentive Program or my high school teachers in Dallas enough."

This TI Foundation grant represents a significant commitment both to local schools and to Change The Equation™ (CTEq) a new national network of more than 100 corporations, foundations and government focused on improving STEM education. Read more about TI’s participation in the CTEq here.