Students Can Win a Car with HISD’s “Cool to be Smart” Program

(From HISD) 

April 13, 2011 – HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry B. Grier will meet with student journalists to talk about the “Cool to be Smart” recognition program, designed to inspire more students to participate in International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) courses by giving away a car and other incentives. The student reporters will help carry the word back to their campuses.

            A car similar to the one to be given away will be displayed during an announcement of the “Cool to be Smart” program at Chavez High School. “We want all our students who graduate from HISD to take rigorous courses such as AP or IB and be better prepared for college,” Dr. Grier said.  “By giving incentives, we want to encourage our students to work hard in school and continue with a higher education. We want it to be cool to be smart at HISD.”

            Dr. Grier said he wanted to bring that message straight to students himself, so he is asking student journalists from every HISD high school to attend Thursday’s event.

The “Cool to Be Smart” program also provides incentives such as college scholarships, laptop computers, and other prizes for students.  To be eligible for the drawing of the new car, students must be graduating seniors who earned a score of 3 or higher on at least 5 AP exams, earned a 4 or higher on at least 5 IB exams, or a combination of the two.  The upcoming AP/IB testing dates will take place at the end of April and during May, with the results known in the summer.

Texas Direct Auto will donate a car to a winning student during a special ceremony in August.

Students who have scored well enough to earn college credit on at least five AP or IB exams could enter college with the equivalent of more than one semester of credit under their belts.  Currently, more than 9,000 students are enrolled in advanced placement courses.  In the 2009-10 school year, student enrollment in AP courses increased by 8.3 percent to 8,789 and the number of AP exams administered increased by 43% to 16,556.   The number of AP exams earning a qualifying score increased by 27% from 2008-09 to 2009-10.  Next school year, at least 15 AP courses will be offered at every HISD high school. A new policy was also implemented this year at HISD with the expectation that all students who take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses also take the AP or IB exams — at no cost to those students. 

“HISD is vested in ensuring that students are recognized for their hard work on AP and IB exams.  We know that these courses are challenging and earning a qualifying score on the exams is an achievement,” said AP/IB School Improvement Officer Esti Arriaga.  “Texas Direct Auto has given us a wonderful opportunity to give a free car to one lucky and extraordinary student.  We hope that this will also motivate more students to not only participate in AP or IB, but to work hard to earn scores that could also earn them college credit.”

The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 298 schools and more than 200,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.

For more information, visit the HISD Web site at

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