In Parachute, Colorado, the school wide approach to placing students in AP classes is working at Grand Valley High School, according to Principal Ryan Frink.
Advanced placement, or AP, is a program created by the College Board that offers college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students.
The Grand Valley program is modeled after a highly successful program in a Portland, Ore., school district that moved it from one of the bottom ten districts in that state to one of the top 10 districts in the U.S., according to Newsweek magazine, Frink said.
“Their high school is about the same size as ours and their superintendent has come out to visit and help us get it going,” he added.
Frink said the goal was a viable and stable curriculum that didn’t change due to yearly staff turnover. AP is nationally renowned and offers training for
teachers and staff, he noted.
“It also helped take the lid off education, so students don’t feel stifled,” Frink said. “It’s really the right curriculum and the right system for us.”
Freshmen and sophomores at Grand Valley take English AP classes, juniors take AP English literature and seniors can add AP English composition I and II through Colorado Mountain College, Frink said.
“Next year, every social studies class will be an AP class,” he added.
That will be the third of a three-year AP implementation plan for Grand Valley, Frink noted.
The move to all-school AP classes was not done due to declining enrollment, Frink said, that has seen the school go from a high of 400 students a few years ago to 285 students this year.
“The issues are still there, no matter how many students we have,” he said.