Westmont Hilltop, Central Cambria add training for advanced placement classes, exams

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Sep. 21—State Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, announced Wednesday $200,000 in grants to bring a national teacher training and development program to Westmont Hilltop and Central Cambria school districts.

"It's been great so far," Central Cambria Superintendent Jason Moore said about the program.

The program Burns identifies is The National Math and Science Initiative, which is a group that works to improve and increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in schools.

The program is also designed to improve access to and success in advanced placement classes to help students earn college credits and better prepare them for post-secondary coursework.

"It aligns with how we've been trying to get more advanced placement courses in the district," Moore said.

He added that the key is student preparation in the middle school in which the teachers align curriculum with courses students will encounter at the secondary level, which high school Principal Christopher Santini has been working to expand for years.

For those at Westmont, the grant will address an area district leaders saw as a need within the schools.

"This initiative will help educate students and families about the value of AP exams," Westmont Superintendent Thomas Mitchell said. "Additionally, the training will help teachers prepare students for the AP exams and remove the financial barrier to student registration."

Last year, 62% of Westmont high school students took one of the 14 advanced courses offered.

"When a school superintendent from an adjoining county told me this was hands down the best teacher training and development they'd ever had for their staff, I worked to get it started in Cambria County," Burns said in a release. "From getting grants for classroom technology to forging partnerships with local businesses and industry, I'm committed to working with our local schools to make sure our students have the best opportunities."

The national program is in roughly 33 Pennsylvania school districts.