AP Annual Conference 2023

Strategies for Supporting Your AP Program

On the second day of College Board’s 2023 AP® Annual Conference, Martha Smith, a program specialist from the Georgia Department of Education, shared with a roomful of educators a session on “Strategies for Supporting Your AP Program.” Ms. Smith began by setting the scene for the state of Georgia, which comprises 159 counties, 181 school districts, and 530,550 high school students. The state DOE has two funding options for AP Exams: (1) one AP Exam for public school students that qualify for a fee reduction or (2) one AP Exam in a STEM subject for public school students who do not qualify for the fee reduction. As the Georgia state DOE seeks to increase AP participation throughout the state, Ms. Smith shared some of the methods used to support AP teachers.

  1. Showing Teachers and Coordinators They Can Approach the DOE for Help

The Georgia state DOE wants teachers and coordinators to understand they can ask the department for help and thus provides a variety of supports to foster communication. The Georgia DOE’s efforts include: monthly email updates to AP coordinators with reminders and information; quarterly virtual “coffee and conversation” sessions; informal and open discussions to build a coordinator network and community; and virtual webinars in partnership with College Board.

2. Creating an Online Community for Georgia Educators

The Georgia DOE rolled out an online “Georgia DOE community” last year for educators to get resources from the state and to facilitate discussions among educators. Ms. Smith likened the online community to Facebook, but as a way for educators to access all the work the DOE does. It includes everything from special education to assessments to data, and seeks to be an easier and more efficient way for educators to access the information they need from the state.

3. Webinars as a Resource for the AP Community

The Georgia DOE partners with College Board on a webinar series called “Expanding with Impact,” which has four webinars on AP Seminar, AP Computer Science Principles, Expanding and Supporting Your AP Program, and Using AP PotentialTM. The structure is the same for all webinars, which include both general and Georgia-specific information, and educators share insight into implementation and curriculum. The DOE also participates in the AP Virtual Academy, which has greatly increased access for teachers in more rural parts of the state now that it is virtual.

4. AP Boot camp Framework to Encourage Participation

The Georgia DOE seeks to encourage kids to participate in AP courses and thus created an advanced academic boot camp and flexible framework to provide opportunities for acceleration for students. The boot camp has four modules: academic schools, communication skills, reading skills, and writing skills. The framework provides schools and districts with a flexible and customizable structure they can use for a several day summer camp for potential AP students.

5. Allocating DOE Grants to Districts to Support AP Teachers

To further support teachers, the Georgia DOE uses grants in three ways: AP Teacher Training grants send AP teachers to AP Summer Institute; AP Pipeline grants send English teachers who do not yet teach AP courses to AP Summer Institute; and AP Mentoring grants award funds to schools and districts creating their own mentoring program or sending teachers to the College Board AP teacher mentoring program.

Additionally, the Georgia DOE annually recognizes their schools through AP Honor School Awards based on their own rubrics and criteria.