Wauwatosa School District
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
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Wauwatosa Student

HOW WE DID IT

Each student had the opportunity to identify the barriers they perceived stood in the way of enrollment in an AP course. We listened. We did not excuse away student perceptions. Instead, we analyzed our practices and identified specific student-centered, school-wide, and systemic strategies to remove the barriers for our students. We identified flaws in our system that implicitly and explicitly denied students access to a rigorous, college-bound pathway, and we began the work to systematically improve for ALL students. We have prioritized this work, are proud of our early data, and know we can continue to do better for our students and our community.

The classroom communities within AP courses have seen an increase in both racial and socioeconomic diversity and a range of  perspectives that offer richer, deeper collaborative learning opportunities for students (and teachers).

Our Reason for Tackling AP/IB Equity Work

There was a clear gap in the number of underrepresented students in our advanced courses. We felt that EOS would be the impetus to move us quickly in a direction to raising expectations for all students and having all students equally represented in our AP courses.

The Most Inspiring Aspect of the Work

There is so much that impacted the people in our District. Overall the number of underrepresented students that enrolled in AP increased dramatically because of this work. Hearing a couple of students talk to the School Board about this process and the impact it had on them, made it worthwhile. There are many great success stories to share.

Who Benefits Most

The benefits of our work toward increasing the proportionality of underrepresented students in Advanced Placement classes have been broad and deep in scope. This work has impacted the students who have been and are continuing to be recruited. These are students who would have been implicitly denied this opportunity in the past. We have grown as educators teachers, counselors, administrators and understand that indicators of AP readiness, access to information about AP, encouragement to enroll in AP, and support during AP coursework have been narrow in reach. With intentional development of these areas we are removing barriers that have been pervasive for many of our underrepresented students. The classroom communities within AP courses have seen an increase in both racial and socioeconomic diversity and a range of perspectives that offer richer, deeper collaborative learning opportunities for students (and teachers). In Wauwatosa we believe in high expectations for all students. Through this initiative we have committed to doing more than just saying the door is open for all students. We are doing what it takes to actively put students in the seats.

“Hey Mrs. Meyers, I just wanted to say thank you. I am currently in PSYCH 150 “Structure of the Mind and its Behavior” and I know I didn’t pass the AP exam…but I have never felt so prepared for a class in my life. I am familiar with all the concepts and as I go through classwork and assignment, I recall the majority of things because I was taught it so well. Again, just a quick thank you for everything you do and PLEASE, keep it up, because I promise, as an AP teacher you really are preparing students for their futures! You really do make a difference!”

This effort is saving students time and money, building their confidence, and preparing them for success. It is changing the entire history for some families!

Advice

If not you, then who? Take the challenge on because the impact will far outweigh the time and effort it takes. Nobody rises to low expectations and we have seen that in action. This
process works and can be sustained over time.

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