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PLTW Team Participates in National Conversations

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) team members traveled to the 2015 AP Annual Conference in Austin, Texas, last week to participate in the largest professional development gathering of Advanced Placement (AP) Program professionals in the world.

Vince spoke to a crowd of 4,000 at the Friday plenary session about the AP and PLTW partnership announced earlier this year.

“What does this really mean for our nation’s economy? These companies that are recruiting our students and employing them are facing a skills gap, one that threatens our economy and even threatens the vitality of our communities.” Bertram said. “We have to do something about it.”

The goal of the partnership is to provide more opportunities for students to be college and career ready.

“It gives them opportunities for success with Advanced Placement but also with PLTW’s applied programs,” Bertram said. “Both of which have shown over the years to produce great results for students.”

Vince was introduced by Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and instruction at the College Board, who also shared how the partnership will open even more pathways for students.

“These programs emphasize problem- and project-based learning, and we’re incredibly excited about that,” Packer said. “[This new partnership] allows schools to combine Project Lead The Way and AP courses as way to inspire AP students to engage in the problem-based and project-based learning that is the hallmark of Project Lead The Way, and it will encourage Project Lead The Way students to get college credit with AP courses.”

Vince thanked the leadership of the College Board and PLTW team members who helped to make the partnership a reality, but emphasized that this critical work would not be possible without great teachers.

“My life was changed because of teachers,” he said. “It was my teachers who believed in me and inspired me. They are the reason I chose to become an educator.”

AP teachers in all 36 AP courses, AP Coordinators and school counselors, administrators, and higher education professionals from all over the country gathered for the conference to share, learn, and explore strategies that lead to success in the classroom. Sessions on parental engagement, learning strategies, and content filled the conference schedule.

PLTW Chief Engagement Officer David Dimmett presented at one of the sessions and shared how students can earn recognition for their college and career readiness on a panel with Dr. Richard Montgomery, superintendent at Star City School District in Arkansas, who shared a first-hand account of the positive impact AP + PLTW is already having on students.

Star City Schools in Arkansas, under the leadership of Dr. Richard Montgomery, brought together the community to provide access to rigorous curriculum and applied learning opportunities by bringing together AP and PLTW in 2012. The results were amazing. In the 2011-12 school year, only 31 out of 480 students were in the AP program. In 2014-15, 44 percent of the high school student population participated in AP and nearly 50 percent participated in PLTW. The culture of high expectations was transformational.

Earlier in the week, Dimmett traveled to Arlington, Virginia, and represented PLTW at the U.S. Department of Education convening of members of the STEM teacher leadership community to discuss promising practices that will address the challenges in our country.

“Empowering teachers is key to inspiring students to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)," Dimmett said. “As a nation, we have to increase the pipeline of great teachers to do this work.”

Stay current on Vince’s travels – and the latest in education and workforce development news – by following him on Twitter at @VinceBertram.