For most high school students, the chance to make money comes by working a job
after school. But for 18-year-old Ralph Alvarez of Texas, the chance to earn a
paycheck came in class during school hours.
Alvarez earned four $100 checks by participating in the Advanced Placement Incentive Program (APIP), a $60 million national initiative that serves 300,000 students annually and which research has shown Lo be associated with higher rales of college degree attainment and increased wages, particularly for Hispanic students.
Through the program, students can earn $100 for a passing score on the Advanced Placement exams administered by the College Board.
Alvarez, a graduating senior at R.L. Turner High School in the CarrolltouFarmers Branch Independent School District in Texas, earned $400 by scoring a 3 or belter on lour different AP exams during his junior year. The exams included exams in physics, calculus and history. At the time he was interviewed for this article, Alvarez had plans to take several more AP exams before the end of this senior year, thus potentially earning another several hundred dollars.
Alvarez said he would have taken the AP courses and exams regardless of whether he got paid.
"The $100 was just a cherry on top," Alvarez told The Hispanic Outlook during an interview. "Getting a 5 on the exam is an investment."
Indeed, students who score well on AP exams often qualify for college credit, which thereby saves the students time and money when they go to college. The extra $100 that students earn in the APIP for every passing score on an AP exam helps cut college costs, too.
For instance, Alvarez - who has an offer to attend the University of Texas (FT) -Austin and was anticipating offers from several other universities - said he planned, to use the money to buy books for Ins college courses. He said he plans to study architectural engineering, a subject that captured his interest when he became impressed with the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, during the NBA All-Star Game of 2010.
Alvarez's story represents just one of a myriad of high school students' college dreams that are coming true thanks in no small part to the APIP. Education leaders say that AP courses help boost a student's chance of getting inlo college.
"When colleges see that students took an AP course, Uiat's the number one factor that stands out for admission," said Gern1 Charlebois, executive director of advanced academic services at the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD.
"They [colleges] want to know that [students] have been taking the most rigorous courses they can take and have been successful," Charlebois said.
Indeed, grades in college-prep classes have long been a top factor in college admissions decisions, With about 80 percent of colleges rating thie college-prep course grades as "considerably important" in the decisions, according to a National Association for College Admission Counseling report titled 2012 State of College Admission.
In Texas, over 25,000 students at 69 high schools are enrolled in APIP. About one-fourth of the cost of the program is funded locally, and the average cost per school is $100,000. according to Charlotte Carlisle, president of Advanced Placement Strategies Inc., which oversees the APIP program in Texas as part of its National Math + Science Initiative.
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