Across Colorado, high school students who previously would not have had the opportunity to enroll in Advanced Placement (A.P.) classes are not only enrolling, but also are earning passing scores in those classes. “The best thing about A.P. classes is you get the prep for college and you get to learn so much more than you ever would have imagined in high school,” said Megan, a student at Arvada High School in Jefferson County. “It expands your mind to places you never thought it could go.”
Responding to disparities in A.P. enrollment across the State, the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is engaging with 23 high schools to increase the number and diversity of students taking and passing A.P. mathematics, science, and English classes to ensure that more students like Megan are better prepared for postsecondary education. CEI’s program, called the Colorado Legacy Schools Initiative (CLSI), is driven by the philosophy that all students are capable of succeeding in rigorous courses.
CLSI’s strategy is already delivering dividends. After only the first year, participating schools had already seen improvement: in 2012-2013, many CLSI schools showed a 70-percent increase in the number of students who earned a passing score on the mathematics, science, and English A.P. exams. “These outstanding results equate to 522 new high school students who have had the opportunity to participate and succeed in rigorous A.P. coursework” stated Helayne Jones, president and CEO of the CEI. This includes the students at Arvada High, whose 95-percent growth in passing A.P. scores was more than 10 times the state and national average in 2013.
CLSI benefits from a partnership with the National Mathematics and Science Initiative (NMSI), which uses part of its $15 million Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to fund the program.
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More Students Challenging Themselves by Taking AP Classes
States across the country join Colorado in preparing more students to be ready for college or other advanced training after high school by promoting the Advanced Placement (AP) program. Over the past decade nationally, the number of high school graduates who took AP classes nearly doubled, according to the College Board. The below graphic shows how Race to the Top States have responded to the charge to prepare students by increasing access and success in AP classes. Students in Colorado took 16.4% more exams in 2013 than they did in 2011, and are posting 15.7% more qualifying scores on exams in the same time period. To learn more about strategies other States are using to increase college and career preparation, read about how Kentucky students are taking more AP classes and posting more qualifying scores on the exams here. The College Board offers 34 different AP classes.