This week begins course registration at my school. As second semester starts we turn our eyes towards next year. But as hard as it may be to get students to think about next year, when this year is only halfway over, we actually need to get them thinking about four or five years down the road to where they want to be after high school.
In conjunction with our first Class of 2020 Welcome Night, we will also be hosting our AP/Honors Night. While the title AP/Honors Night may seem like just another awards ceremony for our top students, in actuality it is far from that. AP/Honors Night is our school’s way of welcoming all students into our most rigorous coursework and letting them know that success is obtainable if they are willing to work hard.
In the past I’ve written about a College For All culture that I believe is detrimental to some of our students and the educational process as a whole. So why in this case would I be promoting AP/Honors Night, which seems targeted towards college bound students? Well the fact of the matter is that at my school, 86% of our students are college bound. 86% of students are college bound but according to recent numbers our AP participation rate in any given year is 36%. You can look at this is several ways and adjust for a variety of factors, but no matter how you look at it, fewer students are taking AP courses than are going to college.
In an educational climate that is so heavily focused on test scores as a predictor of future success, we often forget that there are other measures by which we can predict collegiate success.
In an educational climate that is so heavily focused on test scores as a predictor of future success, we often forget that there are other measures by which we can predict collegiate success. Perhaps a better indicator of college readiness, and by logic college success, than a test score is a student’s performance in an AP course. After all AP courses are governed by the College Board and written to be taught at a collegiate level.
There are some students who are natural test takers and will exceed standards on any standardized measure put in front of them but the real world and collegiate campus aren’t standardized. Success after high school relies on a variety of skills and character traits; among these: grit, determination, and perseverance. These are some of the exact skills and traits that are developed and exposed through a rigorous set of classroom experiences, not on a test.
Our goal this year, and for the past few years, has been to identify students who are on the college track but who have yet to take on the challenge of an AP class. We want these students to graduate not only college eligible but also college ready. If we can convince them to take an AP course and persevere to the end, we’ll know and they’ll know that they are ready for the academic challenges of college.
To better help promote enrollment in Honors/AP courses, I was part of a team that put together the video embedded/linked in this post. What you’ll hear in this video is the rationale for taking an AP course, and the truth of what to expect in an AP course from the students and staff members who are there day in and day out.
I am so proud of the students in my building who are tackling the challenge of AP and hope that their stories inspire more students to dive into the academic deep end to get a taste of college while still in high school.