Strategies for Planning an AP Initiative
Increasing Advanced Placement Scores is one of the major initiatives the Sterling School District launched in 2014. The vision was clear from the beginning of the planning process - to set meaningful goals and initiatives for the district that would impact student success.
I worked with the Board President, the Board’s Curriculum Committee and administration so we could create strategies that would allow the district to increase AP scores. I consider this one of the most important steps in improving scores second only to the great work our AP teachers do each day.
Below are important strategies that you may want to consider when planning your AP Initiative.
- Work with your Board of Education and Business Administrator to provide funds within the budget that can be used to increase technology in the AP Classroom. In the Fall of 2014, Sterling High School purchased Albert.IO software (formerly named Learnerator) that supports students understanding of AP content. In the same year, AP students were given a 1:1 device for classroom and home use to reinforce AP instruction. The infusion of technology in and out of the classroom allows students to be active learners and encourages individual growth.
- AP instruction is rigorous and students need to accept the challenge. Make it a priority to embrace rigorous coursework.
- Revaluate teaching personnel. AP training through AP Summer Institute is recommended even for experienced teachers. Always have additional teachers trained and ready to teach AP courses.
- Meet with AP teachers regularly and facilitate dialogue within the AP staff. AP teachers learn from each other and discover the best strategies in the AP classroom.
- Increase your AP course offerings so more students and staff get involved. Encourage increased participation in your district.
- Involve the Guidance Department and Honors Teachers in recommending more students that are qualified to take AP courses. Identify AP Potential students through College Board after students take the PSAT’s during their 10th grade year.
- Hold an AP Parent Night for those students and parents you feel can take at least one AP course in their high school career. Explain to them the advantages of taking the AP Challenge.
- Revise the master schedule so students have greater access to their AP Teachers. Lengthen the required class time for AP classes, during the school year.
- Initiate an AP Practice test prior to taking the regular AP test.
- Have AP Teachers and Administration attend the annual AP National Convention. Many of our teachers enhance their teaching strategies while attending various workshops at the convention.
- Have AP Teachers work with College Board as an AP grader so they will understand the grading process.
- Vertical articulation with 9th and 10th grade teachers allows for greater preparation at the AP level.
- Encourage students to score high by having the district reimburse AP fees for those students who score a 4 or 5 on the exam.
- Require all AP students to take the AP exam.
Within a relatively short period of time after starting the initiative, Sterling High School students and staff drastically increased overall passing scores of 3, 4 and 5. In 2015, 44% of students passed. In 2016, 64% of students passed. For the first time ever in 2017 and 2018, the district surpassed the state and global averages with 78% and 75% respectfully (Refer to the AP Five Year School Score Summary 2018).
In the end, you need your AP teaching staff to make AP instruction fun, rigorous and special. If your initial plan is not providing desired results, your administrative staff will need to continue to support and monitor AP progress and make recommendations.
As Chief Education Officer of Sterling High School District, I am fortunate to have a supportive Board of Education, a great administrative team, and hardworking teachers and students that are motivated to achieve.