Making AP Thrive in a Dual Credit World
We often hear debate about AP® and dual credit being an either/or situation—you can offer one option, but not the other. But three enthusiastic mothers and educators, Amanda Austin, Nicki Caudill, and Amiee Webb, from Johnson Central High School (JCHS) in eastern Kentucky shared their experience for offering both AP and dual credit opportunities for students, and how they ensured both programs thrived.
At JCHS, students now have access to 20 AP courses and 30 dual credit courses, but this robust course offering didn’t happen overnight. In 2008, the school had only 2 AP courses and 0 dual credit courses, and by 2017 they had 8 AP courses and 3 dual credit courses. It was important to them to build up both programs together.
One of their keys to success was creating combined pathways for students. But a critical component for student success was ensuring these pathways laid a solid foundation. They achieved this by building a robust Pre-AP® program as well. An example of one of these progressions is a student who takes Pre-AP English in grade 9, then AP English Literature and Composition in grade 10, and AP English Language and Composition in grade 11, finishing with dual credit English 100/200 in grade 12.
These compassionate educators were adamant about making these pathways accessible to everyone, even students with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). One strategy for doing this was building CTE pathway options that combine both programs like Allied Health PreNursing, Biomedical Science, Aerospace Engineering, and Civil Engineering. They also noted how important it was to recruit 8th-grade students and partner with their teachers for recommendations and not base enrollment only on grades. Their most important partners in reaching all these students were the counselors. The school provided training and robust resources for the 30 pathway options to help their counselors support more students.
The outcomes of this unique setup go beyond college credit and saving money. They’ve seen their school’s ACT and state test scores both go up, a significant drop in intellectual segregation, and an enormous increase in college scholarships. By creating an environment that AP and dual credit can co-exist and actually work together resulted in having more students better prepared for college.