“Good luck to these students when they attend the Alabama State Invitational at Fort Payne High School on February 18,” Hoge said. |

A new, more challenging curriculum is soon to be introduced at Fort Payne Middle School, which plans to partner with A+ College Ready, a grant-funded teacher training and incentive program with a proven track record of improving standardized test scores.

“The biggest problem with education in Alabama isn’t funding, it’s that we don’t believe in what our children can achieve,” said Tammy Dunn, vice president of academic affairs for A+ College Ready, which is funded by A+ Education grants Partnership and the Alabama Department of Education.

The Middle School Training and Incentive Program is an adaptation of A+ College Ready’s traditional Advanced Placement (AP) training and incentive program for high schools.

“We will provide the training and all the resources that teachers need to be successful,” Dunn told the Fort Payne Board of Education during a presentation at its regular January meeting last week. “The school will receive a rigorous curriculum fully aligned with Alabama degree programs and College Board AP requirements, along with teacher and student incentives, materials and other ongoing support.”

According to FPMS director Shane Byrd, sixth, seventh and eighth grade teachers will adopt the A+ College Ready curriculum starting next school year once the partnership is complete. The teachers travel to Birmingham each summer for a four-day intensive training seminar, plus an additional day of training in the autumn. You have ongoing access to training and resources through the A+ College Ready website.

“This is a teacher-only company, and we use a curriculum designed by teachers for teachers,” explained Dunn.

She said the program is fully funded, so the school’s only financial obligation is to pay for the travel and accommodation expenses of the teachers who go to the in-person training sessions.

A+ College Ready uses six elements to prepare schools, teachers and students for success, including: 1) prioritizing equity so every student can succeed, 2) providing intensive support and quality training year-round, 3) every classroom receives the necessary equipment, materials, and supplies, 4) students are supported with study sessions and mock exams, 5) a structure for teachers to assess and sustain their growth, and 6) students, teachers, and administrators are rewarded with incentives such as $50 gift cards for Meeting rewards any growth or achievement goal.

A+ College Ready’s track record includes helping Alabama schools achieve the highest national AP score growth from 2009 through 2017.

Since 2009, qualifying scores on AP exams have increased by 174% and the number of low-income students taking one or more AP exams has increased by 259% since 2010. Middle schools participating in the program saw a 96% increase in students meeting the college readiness benchmark in math.