Broadening the Invitation: AP Courses for Any Student
In this session, we heard from two former educators, Renata Elvey and Judith Vigue, who are now Senior Directors for AP® Access at the College Board. In short, we learned that small adjustments to schools’ schedules can have a huge impact. The session focused on three courses that offer a broad range of student access to key college and career opportunities. Those courses are AP Seminar, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Precalculus.
Elvey and Vigue shared specific ideas about how to leverage these three courses to expand access.
First, they suggested offering AP Precalculus to all students ready for the course, not just for honors students. One of the most powerful math courses in American high schools, taking precalculus increases a student’s likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree by 155%, and taking even one AP course changes students’ outcomes, greatly improving their first-year college GPA and on-time graduation rates. AP Precalculus, the program’s newest course, will be available for the first time in the upcoming 2023-24 school year.
Elvey and Vigue also introduced the concept of offering English for 10th graders in the AP Seminar style. AP surveyed the 2,000 schools offering the course. We learned that most schools were offering AP Seminar as an English course; more than 50% of them were already offering it in 10th grade. This makes sense since the skills and concepts in AP Seminar layer in seamlessly with any content required for an English 10 class. There are 48 crosswalks available showing the alignment between state standards to AP Seminar topics and units.
Elvey explained that while AP Seminar was launched in 2014 as part of the AP Capstone Diploma™ Program, which includes AP Seminar and AP Research, there are benefits from just taking AP Seminar along. Students who took AP Seminar showed stronger AP Exam performance on later AP Exams than their peers who didn’t take the course. Students should choose whether to go on to take AP Research.
AP Computer Science Principles
Lastly, they urged schools to offer AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) as early as possible in a student's high school career, as there are no prerequisites. Evidence shows that students are more likely to participate in subsequent AP STEM courses when they take AP CSP. Taking this course early can spark a new interest and build confidence for students to take more AP courses. Participation in this course also increases the likelihood of declaring a STEM major in college and working in a STEM field, with the highest gains for Black and Hispanic students.
This session challenged all participants to consider adjusting their school’s programming to increase access to AP.