AP Chemistry teacher and MSAN Co-Advisor O'Dasha Johnson and MSAN members D’Angelo Carter and Alisha Brown (L-R) at the AP Info Table in the school cafeteria, talking to students interested in knowing more about the advantages of taking AP courses.
March 2, 2016 -- Heights High offers 19 AP courses that provide college level curriculum and challenge. Minority students, however, have been under represented in AP courses at Heights High and nationally.
“We want to make sure that all students have the same opportunity and support to succeed in an AP course,” said Heights High Assistant Principal Alisa Lawson-McKinnie. “We know that so many of our students have the potential, but need encouragement and additional support.”
To capitalize on a wealth of student potential and to increase minority student enrollment in AP courses, the District recently formed a partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools, EOS. The organization provides data analysis and suggests best practices that provide equitable academic opportunities to all students.
Last fall, EOS helped the District identify 350 students who are not currently taking an AP course but who have the potential to succeed with challenging coursework. These students were invited to a February 8 morning assembly. The meeting included a panel of students currently taking AP courses, an AP teacher and an administrator.
The speakers talked about the value and satisfaction of honing the skills needed to complete college level school work and emphasized that AP courses help prepare students for both college and career.
They also cited important data from College Board showing that students who take AP courses are more likely to graduate from college.
Peer to Peer Communication
The members of the Minority Student Achievement Network, MSAN, are an important part of the District’s EOS partnership. They recently hosted an information table in the cafeteria to talk to prospective AP students and give them a peer to peer perspective about AP courses.
Senior MSAN members D’Angelo Carter and Alisha Brown volunteered to staff the table and were busy talking to students and distributing information about AP courses.
“AP courses are definitely harder but I know that I will be better prepared for college next year,” said D’Angelo. He is currently taking AP Chemistry and AP Calculus/AB and is interested in studying engineering or economics when he attends college next year.
Alisha is in the AP Chemistry and AP Statistics courses and definitely sees the academic advantage to enrolling in the AP courses. However, she was telling students about the opportunity for another important reason.
“When more minority students are in the AP classes, it is just more comfortable for us,” she said.
Encouragement to Enroll, Support to Persevere
After students enroll in AP courses, a vital aspect of student success is following up with strong student support. The support programs that will be implemented during the 2016-17 school year for students who are new to the AP program include: Summer AP Boot Camp, MSAN sponsored Peer to Peer tutoring and mentoring and expanding the AVID, Advancement Through Individual Determination, program.
Support for teachers is also an aspect of the EOS strategy. Recently college representatives from The University of Mount Union, Cleveland State University and Tri-C Community College held round table discussions with teachers highlighting the academic skills needed to succeed in college.
“Both encouraging students to select AP courses and beefing up our support is very important and will help us prepare more students for success in college,” said Sandy Womack, Director of Principal Leadership and Development. “Our partnership with EOS is helping us reach Goal #2 of our Strategic Plan: Educational Approach – Equity, Empowerment and Opportunities."