District sending teachers to AP training
This story is the second of two recent stories about Advanced Placement at Yuma Union High School District. The first one can be found here: http://www.yumasun.com/
The Yuma Union High School District will be sending an unprecedented number of teachers to Advanced Placement (AP) training throughout the region this summer to further expand course options for students.
Also, after the 2013-2014 school year, the district will be offering an AP Summer Institute in Yuma for the first time to not only save on travel costs, but to also to attract other teachers from the Southwest region to attend.
Frank Núñez, YUHSD community engagement and communications director, explained that in the past they have sent three faculty members per campus, give or take, to AP professional development training to learn from experts in their content areas who have been nationally recognized teachers with high-achieving advanced students. Núñez said that teachers learn the best practices and strategies to effectively support students in the classroom.
“This year, with our Ready Now Yuma initiative, we've made a real commitment to even expanding AP coursework as to build upper division pathways for our students, that really get them college ready,” he said.
To help in this effort, the district will send a group of approximately 36 AP teachers for professional development. Núñez said that number includes both new and veteran teachers who will be teaching course mainstays like AP English Literature and AP English Language as well as more diverse courses like AP Human Geography, AP Psychology and AP Environmental Science.
“What the AP experience provides students with is a very high expectations, very rigorous curriculum that's aligned to college going expectations and what many students will have to decide is how much do they want to challenge themselves in their years of high school,” he said.
Núñez shared that when considering which university to attend, generally many students want to see what the campus looks like and parents want to see if the dorms are to their liking and whether or not the student union provides a good environment for their child.
“What's really important though is to check out the classrooms at college, to see what the curriculum are like, what the courses are like and what the expectations of those courses are – you really can't do that on a one day trip to ASU, for example – but what AP does is it takes basically 300-level coursework and brings it into a two semester class in high school,” he said.
Essentially, high school students have the opportunity to take courses, some of which cover material they wouldn't get until their junior year of college.
And with the one to five scale exam at the end of each AP course, Núñez remarked that most universities throughout the country will accept a three or higher score as credit for courses.
“But even when students don't get a three, even if they get a one or a two, what the data shows is that because they went through a high expectations curriculum, they're much, much more prepared to graduate from college on time within four to five years,” he said. Consistent for all ethnic demographic breakdowns, students are 60 percent more likely to graduate on time from their degree if they get a three or higher on an AP exam and are 50 percent more likely to graduate on a time if they receive a one or a two on an AP exam than a student who didn't take a AP course.
“So what we see is that we need to create more opportunities for students to really experience what the college classroom is like while still in high school,” Núñez said.
With plans to have an AP Summer Institute in Yuma in 2014, he said that not only will it help cut down on cost by two thirds, it will also help the district build the professional development to meet its own specific needs. He added that the district would work to bring in those that are nationally recognized from places like College Board, Advancement Via Individual Determination and the Arizona Department of Education to both maximize professional development to help faculty and students achieve high expectations.
He concluded that YUHSD has received recognition on a national level for work they're doing to break down the barriers to allow all students to have access to AP courses.
“There's not many districts who do what we do in terms of AP being an open enrollment type of course in our district,” said Núñez. “If you're a student who wants to challenge yourself to be college- and career-ready by taking a high expectations course like AP, we're going to be there to support you, and most importantly we're not going to say no, ever.”