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NMSI: No Pain, No Gain

Just one year ago, much controversy arose around the partnership Chartiers Valley School District formed with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), an affiliation through which NMSI guaranteed an increase in not only participation, but growth in the percent of students at CVHS who are able to pass and earn the college credits associated with these intense standardized tests. The requirements associated with being a NMSI school took a toll on students and teachers alike as the 2015-2016 school year took it’s course, leaving all to wonder if NMSI had really “done the math,” and if their program would engender the exponential increase they had projected when pitching their program to Chartiers Valley just last year.

Today, one year later, I joined more than thirty members of the class of 2017 as they celebrated their success on the Advanced Placement tests taken this past May. Students were called to the cafeteria where they were presented with a one hundred dollar check for each exam they passed in the areas of math, science, or english, an incentive NMSI utilizes to generate student interest in attempting the more difficult class in place of an “easy A” in a less demanding course. When asked how he would be utilizing his earnings from passing  both the English Language and Physics 1 exams, Senior Devin Moore countered by saying it would go towards “paying for SAT subject tests, buying more AP prep books for this year, and probably food.”

It was all smiles as students celebrated their accomplishments with one another, but close by were teachers, counselors, and administrators who were also beaming with pride. When asked his reaction to the extent of student success in only the first year of the NMSI initiative, Chartiers Valley Superintendent, Dr. White, smiled genuinely as he looked out at all of the students who had just received their checks. Acknowledging all the hard work which brought these students to this point, Dr. White explained: “It’s pretty awesome. It’s really cool to watch everyone challenge themselves and to be successful, because you know they can. It really says a lot about the teachers and the kids and the parents. It is very rewarding to see the happiness, but I think this is only the tip of the ice burgh. I think we have a lot more potential, so there is a lot more to come. As I look at it, this is only the beginning.”

 

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