Presenter: Joel Gulko, Senior Education Manager, K12 Services, The College Board (Joel substituted for Yolandé Berger, advanced placement coordinator at the Ohio Department of Education, who has laryngitis.)
Summary: Students who take advanced placement (AP) courses are more prepared for college than others, and those who do moderately well in these courses are more likely to earn a college degree in four years. The College Board estimates the “advanced placement (AP) potential” of students to be about 70 percent across racial groups. The number of students who actually participate in these courses, however, is much smaller. To build, improve and expand AP offerings, Race to the Top (RttT) has provided seed money for 22 schools.
- Two principals from these schools shared highlights of their plans. Keith Baumgartner from Allen East H.S. in Allen County advised starting slowly by adding one AP course at a time. His school started with AP U.S. History. They actively communicated with parents about AP benefits, challenges and expectations.
- Principal Greg Williams, Dixie H.S. in New Lebanon, introduced AP U.S. History and Calculus. Students receive weighted grades to address concerns about GPAs. Enrolled students were offered early dismissal on AP days as an incentive, as well as multiple supports during and after school.
- Gulko said it is essential to prepare students for AP courses by: advising them to take preliminary courses in the right order; offering student supports (counseling, tutoring); doing test simulations; holding an off-site retreat; connecting with business and colleges for supplemental teachers; conducting summer bridge programs or AP boot camps.
- Supports for teachers: Professional development, networking and professional learning communities are essential. Resources for teachers include on the Ohio Department of Education’s AP Web page include the Ohio AP Network collaborative site. Also, the College Board is continually redesigning courses and has a website with materials for parents and students.