FRANKFORT — Programs serving Kentucky’s brightest math and science students were showcased Monday at a meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education.
One featured program, the Gatton Academy, was recently recognized by Newsweek as America’s Best High School.
“The Gatton Academy is the best example I know of what happens when you remove the learning ceiling and let students learn what they’re able to learn,” said Dr. Julia Roberts, Executive Director of the Center on Gifted Studies.
The academy, located in Bowling Green, is a public residential two-year high school open to students across the state. It offers an advanced math and science curriculum, allowing students to complete their high school diploma while earning 60 hours of college credit.
Students from 107 counties have attended the program since it began in 2008.
According to Tim Gott, Director of the school, most students also complete research in their field of interest, providing them with scholarship opportunities typically available only to college students. All of the school’s graduates have gone on to enroll in a four-year university, he said.
Lawmakers also heard about another program helping Kentucky students get a jump start on college. Advance Kentucky, a partnership between the National Math and Science Initiative, the Kentucky Department of Education and several other public and private agencies, aims to increase students’ participation and success in advanced placement (AP) classes.
AP teachers told lawmakers the program is helping them reach more students than they could have otherwise.
“More than a quarter of our student body can read and write at the college level as juniors in high school. They’ve been there the whole time. We’ve just been reaching them for the last five years,” said Stephanie Carter, AP English teacher at Lone Oak High School.
According to Joanne Lang, Executive Director of Advance Kentucky, similar results are seen in the other 78 schools involved in the program. The number of students enrolled in AP Math, Science and English courses has quadrupled since the start of the program five years ago. The number of AP exam scores qualifying for college credit has more than doubled, she said.
“The talent base in this state is unbeatable. We just have to mine it,” Lang said.