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Spreading the A.P. Gospel to Nurture Scientists and Engineers

A high school in Pittsburgh is in the first year of a three-year push to greatly expand the reach and success of its A.P. classes, collaborating with the National Math and Science Initiative, a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 to help improve education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM fields.

For decades, a recurrent refrain is that American students are mediocre at science and math and that soon technology companies will not be able to find qualified job applicants.

Many public schools in well-to-do suburbs continue to excel, and success stories of individual teachers and schools abound. But scaling individual successes to a broad range of schools has been more elusive, especially in poorer districts.

NMSI is working to change that through its initiatives, which include deploying a combination of teacher training, student study sessions and encouragement that includes cash incentives. It has worked with 560 high schools in 22 states since 2008, and the results have been impressive.