The Berea College i3 Initiative: Accelerating Academic Achievement in Appalachian Kentucky (A4KY)

Berea College won an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant for 2012-2016. We were chosen based on our record of improving student achievement and attainment, and i3 is intended to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.

Partnering with AdvanceKentucky, A4KY works to increase rigorous learning in Clay, Jackson, and Knox counties. The program supports increased classroom rigor through teacher training and expansion of Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment. The program also works toward improved test scores. Services provided include: Teacher professional development through the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) teacher training program (formerly Laying the Foundation (LTF)) for middle and high school AP and pre-AP teachers; AP test preparation; high school academic counseling; and college preparatory counseling for families.

The APTIP model pictured below has been demonstrated to increase access to and accelerate learning in Kentucky math, science and English (MSE) courses, particularly with under- represented populations.

A4KY puts focuses on:

  1. Open Enrollment by working to expand the college-going culture in its schools,
  2. Student/Recruitment/ Counseling by expanding community engagement and family outreach, and
  3. Rigorous Content-Focused Teacher Training by training 100% of middle and high school Pre-AP teachers through NMSI by year three.

Service Impact

i3 serves 4,159 students in 6th-12th grades in three southeastern Kentucky counties: Clay County, Jackson County and Knox County. The program also provides training for more than 130 middle and high school teachers in the service region.

Ryan and student

One conversation changes an outcome

Even students with the innate ability to do well need a reminder that studying will get them where they want to go. Gina was struggling in her high school Advanced Placement anatomy class. She talked with the Neighborhood achievement counselor about the problem and they reviewed information for her upcoming test.

The counselor went beyond the review to suggest study techniques Gina could use. They made up a silly, but effective, acrostic to remember arteries of the heart. That encouraged Gina to research other study methods and apply the ones she felt would help her the most.

After her test, Gina returned to the counselor to report her progress. She scored more than 30 points higher than she averaged on other tests. That prompted her to say, “Studying does help!”