National Math and Science Initiative's College Readiness Program


“The 67 schools in the new National Math and Science Initiative on AP are great examples of the power of quality instruction, more time spent on task, and rigorous, content-focused teacher training. The NMSI schools are having phenomenal success in raising AP scores among minority students."

-- Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Teacher Development/Training
College Readiness

Target Audience

All Students


Black/African American


Teachers/Educational Leaders




Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

The National Math and Science Initiative's (NMSI) College Readiness Program is raising the level of academic rigor in more than 560 schools across the country by dramatically increasing the number of students taking and passing college-level math, science, and English coursework. Within the first year of launching the program, participating schools experience an average 72% increase in passing scores on Advanced Placement (AP*) exams in these subjects—10 times the national average. NMSI’s College Readiness Program also expands access to rigorous coursework, and produces measurable improvements, among traditionally under-represented groups. A 2010 study, for example, found that African American and Hispanic students who were exposed to the program were 69% and 83% more likely, respectively, to graduate from a four-year college than students who were not part of the program.


Program Overview

NMSI is a nonprofit organization launched in 2007 by top leaders in business, education, and science to transform education in the United States. One of the ways NMSI is raising the academic bar in our nation’s schools is through the College Readiness Program—a comprehensive approach that lays the foundation for rigorous instruction as early as third grade. NMSI's programs boost academic achievement through rigorous AP coursework in math, science, and English, with an emphasis on improving teacher effectiveness and increasing time on task for all students.

NMSI’s College Readiness Program is transforming schools into centers of college and career readiness. How students perform on AP exams is the best indicator available of whether students are prepared for college-level work. Students who master AP courses (earning exam scores of three or higher on a five-point scale) are three times more likely to graduate from college than students who do not score well. For minority students, that multiplier is even greater: African American and Hispanic students who succeed in AP courses are four times more likely to graduate from college. Furthermore, a 2010 study found that NMSI students were 22% more likely to continue in college than students not enrolled in the College Readiness Program.

The program’s key elements of success include teacher training and mentoring by experienced teachers, student support through extra tutoring and study sessions, subsidized exam fees, strict program management, and merit-based awards for teachers and students. NMSI’s College Readiness Program is currently working in more than 560 schools across more than 25 states.

[Note: *Advanced Placement and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board.]

How To Get Involved

It costs roughly $170,000 per year for three years to support NMSI’s College Readiness Program at one school, which amounts to less than $200 per student per year. Schools in Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, New York City, St. Louis, and Washington, DC, among other districts, have expressed interest in adopting the program. It takes roughly eight weeks to vet new sites before program implementation.

Funders and Partners

NMSI was initiated as a public-private partnership, led by private donors such as Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Today, NMSI’s funders and partners also include the U.S. Department of Education, numerous state-level education initiatives, corporations, and individual donors.


Gregg Fleisher, Chief Academic Officer

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.