Cash on the Line for AP Tests

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Since 1995, the Dallas school district has taken a mercenary approach to get more teachers to teach and more students to pass the difficult Advanced Placement (AP) exam. It looks like cold hard cash is a great motivator. For participating high schools, the program--which was started by a Dallas philanthropist--offers a $100 cash incentive to students who pass and a $150 bonus to teachers for every student that passes. The program has been wildly successful at raising both participation and pass rates for the test. During its first five years, the number of students taking AP exams quintupled while minority students are passing the exam at ten times the national average. One high school experienced a 300% increase in the number of tests taken in the past three years and a 190% increase in the number of exams passed. The success of the program is clear in that it's spreading like wildfire: 46 high schools in 15 Texas districts, including 28 Dallas public high schools. The program has been so successful that Texas Instruments has committed $2.1 million over 5 years for incentives while the Dallas school district chipped in $6.1 million to pay for teacher training, tutoring, and subsidizing the exam.