Working Toward AP Through Pre-AP
As a College Board–designated Pre-AP® school, Pinecrest Preparatory Middle-High (PPMH) School in Miami, Fla., knows firsthand how early exposure to critical thinking prepares students for success in AP courses. In a panel discussion at this year’s AP® Annual Conference, four PPMH educators talked about how they’ve doubled down on the power of the Pre-AP Shared Principles by using them as a common “academic language” across all grade levels and disciplines.
All Pre-AP courses share the following set of instructional principles: Close Observation and Analysis; Evidence-Based Writing; Higher-Order Questioning; and Academic Conversation. At PPMH, students are introduced to these foundational skills in their Pre-AP courses, but that’s certainly not the only time they’ll encounter them in the classroom.
Assistant Principal Greide Llambes explained that the Pre-AP Shared Principles are referenced and reinforced in most courses, so that every student is exposed to and familiar with them, whether they choose to take an AP course or not.
The shared principles teach students a ‘way of learning’ that reduces their anxiety about taking AP. They come to their AP courses with a toolbox of skills, so they can focus on the content of the course instead of learning those fundamentals for the first time.
Greide Llambes , Assistant Principal, Pinecrest Preparatory Middle-High
For instance, students who first practice Higher-Order Questioning in Adriana Almendarez’s Pre-AP English class know exactly what they’re expected to do when Brian Regalado poses a question to his 11th grade U.S. History or AP Seminar class. The principles aren’t just applicable to humanities and social sciences, either. Katrina Ramos said her students apply their Close Observation and Evidence-based Writing skills when asked to solve and prove problems in her AP Calculus BC course. PPMH is able to achieve this synergy across grade levels and disciplines by prioritizing monthly cross-collaboration sessions among teachers.
This common language across courses translates into a schoolwide culture where every student knows that AP is an option. And support isn’t confined to the classroom. In addition to SEL and ELL/SPED supports, PPMH sponsors special events to aid and celebrate their AP students, such as AP pep rallies, AP bootcamps, homework parties, student meetings, and mock exams.
Llambes, Almendarez, Regalado, and Ramos recognized that establishing an AP mindset through the Pre-AP Shared Principles and additional AP support events requires commitment and coordination, but the significant difference in student performance they’ve noticed since implementing these tactics is worth the extra effort.