|Lake Park High School District 108
|Ensuring that ALL students benefit from AP, which included encouraging, supporting, and monitoring nontraditional and traditional AP students, is a moral imperative. Lake Park chose to confront equity and access issues. EOS provided the structure, support, and experience to make these goals a reality.||
Our Reason for Tackling AP/IB Equity Work
Based on Lake Park’s success in AP programming, it was imperative that ALL students viewed AP enrollment as an opportunity for academic success and personal achievement. Given our demographics, we wanted to ensure that students, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic status, or experiential horizons, were reflected in our AP courses. In addition to the academic opportunities afforded to nontraditional AP students, we also recognized that all students would benefit from diversity. As much as anything, we knew our students’ learning experiences would be enriched by opening doors to differing world views, personal beliefs, and life experiences.
The Most Inspiring Aspect of the Work
The excitement and inspiration that emerged from the EOS process was twofold. First, the student surveys prompted personal reflection about the assets that students bring to the learning process. Students realized that they had personal, family, and/or educational resources that could be tapped for success. Pausing to think about a significant teacher or coach, reflecting on the importance of perseverance, or exploring the reasons why AP seemed like an unrealistic goal, became great conversation starters when the outreach efforts were started. Over time, the barriers to AP enrollment began to diminish when the adults invited them into the AP experience. “Yes, I can do it!” replaced the tired mantra, “I’m not smart enough.”
Schools interested in expanding their AP programming to underrepresented groups should embrace the challenge with an assessment of the time and energy that the initiative requires. Shaping students’ lives and transforming mindsets were absolutely worth the effort, but it took persistence and strategic planning. Leadership among well-respected AP teachers, strong administrative support, and layered, year-long planning were essential. Identifying viable candidate pools (Tier 1, 2, 3, and 4) became a helpful way to organize the outreach efforts and delegate responsibilities among steering committee members and those adults who spoke with students about enrolling in AP courses.