-By William Corbit, Director of College Counseling at IDEA College Preparatory Brownsville, and a vehement supporter of IDEA’s “AP For All” Initiative.
Advance Placement at IDEA College Preparatory Brownsville
I am proud to be a colleague of two extraordinary teachers at IDEA College Preparatory Brownsville, Stephen Lopez and Allyson Even. This past year, they both taught Advanced Placement (AP) classes and had extraordinary results.
AP classes are rigorous, college-level classes that can afford a student the opportunity to earn college credit if they receive a passing score (3, 4, or 5) on an AP course exam. These credits can potentially save students and their families thousands of dollars in college tuition, fees, and textbook costs and help more students and families afford a college education.
AP courses also offer college admissions officers a consistent measure of course rigor across high schools, districts, states, and countries—because all AP teachers, no matter where they’re teaching, have to teach a curriculum that meets college standards. When admissions officers see “AP” on students’ transcripts, they have a good understanding of what a student experienced in a particular class and how well the course prepared the student for the rigor of college.
Ms. Even, our 9th grade AP Human Geography teacher, had 44 students pass the AP exam. She set a district record for having the most number of students pass an AP test (aside from AP Spanish Language or AP Spanish Literature). Mr. Lopez, our 9th grade AP Microeconomics teacher, had 33 students pass, and had the most number of students pass his test in the country by demographic. Traditionally, the AP Microeconomics test is not usually given to 9th grade students, and in 2015, according to the College Board, only 272 9th grade students nationwide took this exam.
In order to achieve this student success, Ms. Even and Mr. Lopez went the extra mile. They offered extra tutorials during lunch, after school, and even on weekends, and the extra effort was well worth it. They proved what is possible when teaching AP courses to all students. This whatever-it-takes attitude is present in our teachers across the district, in both academy and college preparatory levels, because IDEA teachers possess an unwavering commitment to ensure our students are successful.
This year, 9th grade students at IDEA Brownsville are taking AP Human Geography and AP Microeconomics, and our 10th grade students are taking AP Physics 1, AP US History, and some students are taking AP Spanish Language.
“Ms. Even constantly brought our viewpoints, our opinions, and our lives to the forefront of the lesson. Every day I grew more confident in my ability to read, write, and express myself on issues of politics, race, and societies across the world. I felt more confident and inspired in Ms. Even’s class as the year went on. I was beginning to see the world differently. I wanted to be an agent of change. This passion for Ms. Even’s class led me to pass my Human Geography AP test. Not only do I write better, read better, understand the world and all of its complexities better, but now I have college credit under my belt. I look forward to taking and passing more Advanced Placement classes in my time at IDEA and starting my college career being able to take classes immediately toward my major.”
-Fatima Leal, 10th grader at IDEA Brownsville
AP For All at IDEA Public Schools
One key component of increasing college readiness is affording more students the opportunity to take challenging courses that effectively prepare them for the rigors of college. Unfortunately, while AP courses are offered at many high schools throughout the country, they are not always provided for every student.
At IDEA Public Schools we are determined to ensure all students are afforded the opportunity to take AP courses. At IDEA, we believe that if every student is going to succeed in college, then every student should engage with college preparatory coursework. As part of IDEA’s AP for All initiative, every student is required to take at least 11 AP courses as part of their core curriculum in high school. In order to succeed in these courses, students begin taking pre-AP courses in 6th grade and begin the AP sequence in 9th grade.
As we have expanded AP access to more students, AP passing rates have increased. Not only do IDEA’s high-quality teachers find innovative ways to teach students challenging content, but they also differentiate the lessons for students at different learning levels. In 2015, the percentage of IDEA students who passed AP exams with a score of three or higher increased by 145 percent, and the total number of AP Scholars at IDEA increased by 73 percent.
This is just the beginning of student success and opportunity at IDEA Public Schools. We are excited to continue to provide rigorous courses to our students at IDEA Brownsville, and across all of our campuses, to ensure they are prepared for the challenges and coursework of college.
To learn more about AP For All at IDEA, visit www.ideapublicschools.org/our-approach/curriculum/college-prep or visit apply.ideapublicschools.org to enroll your child at IDEA today.