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San Diego High School Lands Money To Help Military Kids

AP English and composition teacher Elizabeth Ward talks to some of her students.

Photo by Brooke Binkowski

Above: AP English and composition teacher Elizabeth Ward talks to some of her students.

San Diego Unified School District will get a $716,000 grant to help Serra High School students get into and pass Advanced Placement tests. The Department of Defense awarded the grant as part of the National Math and Science Initiative.

The money will be used to cover all but $5 of the sometimes-prohibitive $89 cost of taking AP tests for low-income students, and it will halve the cost for everyone else.

"This grant is so important for our students, because it's providing us with resources that will enable more kids to sign up for AP and actually have access to the rigorous coursework that AP affords students," said Elizabeth Ward, an English and composition teacher at Serra High.

Advanced Placement courses are harder and involve more intensive coursework than regular courses, she said. They can also occasionally be used as a head start on college credit.

"This program actually funds our students to be able to take the AP exam, [and] it gives release time for our teachers to have training on how you help students with critical thinking, working collaboratively," San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said. "The demands of the future jobs require students to think critically."

A large portion -- about 30 percent -- of Serra's student body is made up of teens whose parents are in the armed forces, which is why the school applied for this particular grant.

The National Math and Science Initiative finds that a student who passes an exam after an Advanced Placement class nearly is a third more likely to earn a college degree than a student who does not.

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