Breaking boundaries and setting up a system for success
Schools and districts statewide have expanded access for students traditionally shut out of college-level courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) but students, especially low-income students, will not experience the kind of success that is known to be valuable for college readiness and for college success unless access is coupled with systematic supports.
School leaders at Everett Public Schools have been deliberate about ensuring that their students have the best possible chance for success. Their approach includes engaging students that would not have traditionally taken AP courses, informing and encouraging parents to talk to their children about these opportunities, and identifying AP-capable students.
Everett worked hard to build a school culture that promotes successful AP experiences for both students and teachers. “Before, I thought AP classes were for people who didn’t look like me,” said Mariama Darboe, a student at Everett High School. “I thought it was for people who are white and really, really smart.” According to Assistant Principal Blythe at H.M. Jackson High School, “Mindset is one of the biggest challenges, not just for students but for staff as well.” Understanding that AP is rigorous for both teachers and students, school leaders created systematic support for teachers, including mentor teachers and teacher learning programs, and scheduling accessible tutoring programs for students.
School leaders at Everett Public Schools looked past the outdated assumptions that low-income students are less capable of AP-level work than their white peers. Not only did they create opportunities for students to enroll in AP classes, they built in schoolwide support programs to enable both teachers and students to successfully transition to the rigors of AP coursework.