Increasing AP Course Enrollment Across All NYC Schools

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn college credit in high school is an objective of all members of the AP community.

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn college credit in high school is an objective of all members of the AP community – from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. It takes districts to experiment with initiatives and strategies to see how they can expand access and improve student performance at the same time.

That’s exactly what New York City Public Schools has been able to do through their AP for All initiative. Launched 2016-2017 school year as part of New York City’s Equity and Excellence agenda, the effort brings new AP courses to schools that have offered few or no AP courses. The focus being to help schools not only to receive rigorous training for new and continuing AP teachers, but also to assist school leaders in identifying students who are ready for AP course work and prepare those students.

National data from 2018 show that among Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students with a high degree of readiness for AP, only about half are participating. An important step in getting more of these students to participate is to give them access.

At a recent event celebrating the outcomes of AP for All teachers and administrators, Chancellor Richard A. Carranza drew from his own experience as an AP student, to convey the importance of all schools having access to a full slate of at least five AP classes by fall 2021.

“When I asked about AP courses at my school, my counselor immediately wondered why I wouldn’t want instead to follow a path that would lead to a career in sheet-metal work. And my response was, ‘I want to take AP because I want to go to college’,” said Chancellor Carranza. “Taking AP is preparing for college, and that means making it an option for students at all high schools in New York City."

From left to right, Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, Dr. Ruby Ababio-Fernandez, Deputy Chancellor LaShawn Robinson, and Trevor Packer.

Since the 2016–2017 school year, AP for All has worked side-by-side with 258 NYC schools to launch more than 500 new AP courses. In turn, the numbers of students of color participating in AP have steadily climbed. In 2016, about 20,000 Hispanic/Latino and African-American students sat for an AP exam; in 2018, that number went up to 27,000, an increase of 33 percent.

“Success in Advanced Placement is a combination of students’ own motivation and the opportunities educators provide for them,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and Instruction at the College Board. “I’m inspired by the teachers and administrators in New York City schools who have worked to engage so many more students in college-level coursework since the start of this initiative two years ago.”

Information was also shared with educators about the new AP resources and streamlined processes that will empower students to succeed. With new resources like practice materials and insights into the exam, designed and tested in collaboration with AP educators, students will be able to learn college-level content and skills throughout the year. For more information, please visit collegeboard.org/ap2019.