63% of our graduates attend a 4-year university. Of this population, over 98% of them have completed accelerated coursework with us. 82% of them have completed an accelerated course prior to 12th grade. Overall, 96% of our graduates who have completed accelerated coursework as underclassmen go on to continue their education at either a 2 or 4-year post-secondary institution. As a result, our department places great emphasis on college preparatory coursework. This focus aligns with our vision and mission, our SIP, and our district’s strategic plan.
Our district collects demographics data using 6 racial/ethnic categories: A – Asian/Pacific Islander, B - Black, Non-Hispanic, H – Hispanic, I - American Indian/Alaskan Native, M – Multiracial/Other, W – White, Non-Hispanic. Students with a background other than White, Non-Hispanic are considered part of the minority population. Using the Student Acceleration Data Report accessed through the district’s Educational Data Warehouse, we discovered that while 43.3% of our student body identified as minority students, only 35.6% of the students enrolled in AICE and AP courses identified as such. Further, while 52% of our student population had successfully completed an accelerated course, only 45% of our minority population had done so. Recognizing the importance of these classes, we set out to raise the percentage of minority students enrolled in rigorous coursework to at least 38% with a successful completion rate of at least 48%. To achieve this, we focused on key Mindsets and Behaviors, particularly M4, BLS7, and BLS8.
Our comprehensive program included core curriculum, small group, and individual student planning activities that tackled this goal. Many of our lessons addressed rigor of schedule, strategies for success in challenging courses, and college planning. Our AP/AICE/Dual Enrollment Night was particularly important. This event began with a presentation on the importance of accelerated coursework, the differences between the programs, and the process for enrolling in classes. This was followed by a Showcase of Courses, where each AP/AICE teacher was available with details about their specific courses. Students and parents were free to move about, talking to as many different teachers as they wanted. On a scale of 1 to 5, survey respondents indicated that this presentation met their expectations (average score of 4.75) and the content was useful (average score of 4.79).
While not specifically designed to address this goal, several of our small groups encourage students of diverse backgrounds to successfully complete rigorous courses. Our Movers and Shakers (77% minority), Women of Tomorrow (37.5% minority), and Take Stock in Children (78% minority) groups all included components on strategies for success in accelerated courses and preparing for post-secondary coursework through rigorous classes.
Finally, counselors met individually with students to encourage accelerated coursework. For example, we reviewed the AP Potential List provided by College Board. In SY17, 135 minority students earned PSAT scores that indicated that they may be ready for AP curriculum. All 135 of these students met with their counselors to discuss college readiness and rigorous course work. As of April 2017, there were only 8 minority students on the list who were not registered in an accelerated course. Counselors met with these students to discuss their scores and encourage them to enroll in rigorous coursework. Following these meetings, 5 students registered for an AP or AICE course. In addition to these meetings, our department meets with every student on campus individually every April to review their course requests and to make any needed adjustments. During these meetings, counselors encourage students to enroll in the coursework that will best prepare them for their postsecondary goals. Counselors made a point of urging minority students with a post-secondary education in mind to increase the rigor of their schedule.
As indicated by the Course Enrollment Report and the Student Acceleration Data Report, we met our goal of increasing minority enrollment in and completion of accelerated coursework. We will continue to work to close the gaps in access and achievement. One intervention that we are currently investigating is pre-AP classes for our 9th graders. We plan to open access to these courses to a larger population of students. In the past, our pre-AICE courses were only available to students who scored above grade level (Level 4 or 5) on annual standardized assessments. We are looking to offer pre-AICE and pre-AP courses to students who are on grade level (scoring Level 3) as well. Increasing access to these programs will allow more students of all backgrounds to develop the skills necessary to be successful in accelerated courses later in high school.