In an effort to better prepare the city’s students for the demands of college, 55 public high schools will add a total of 120 Advanced Placement courses with a particular focus in math and science, city school officials announced Monday.
The three-year, $7.3 million effort, formally known as the NYC DOE Advanced Placement Expansion Initiative (APEX), is expected to reach 2,500 students this academic year and 10,000 students in all. It’s focused on schools where the students are predominantly from groups that are underrepresented in higher education, officials said at a news conference.
“If we do our job, we’ll be able to reach even more students and get even more funding from the private sector when they see the results of the first year, ,” said Gregg Fleisher, Chief Academic Officer of the National Math + Science Initiative, a nonprofit that is helping to implement the expansion effort.
Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said there has been an 89 percent increase in the number of students taking AP exams and an 85 percent increase in those passing the exams since 2002.
“You represent some of those students,” Walcott said to the hundreds of city high school students who had gathered at the Rosenthal Pavilion / Kimmel Global Center at NYU for the launch of the initiative.
“But I also know that you can increase those numbers as well,” Walcott said to the students, who all sported T-shirts emblazoned on the back with the words “We Can Do This!”
Several students interviewed by Walcott during a panel discussion at the event told their peers that the AP courses require more time to study but pay off in the long run–by saving them tuition money as well as better preparing them for college. Some colleges give credit to students who earn a high score on an AP exam. Yailizabeth Castillo, a senior at Park East High School, said AP course teachers stress the kind of independence that is needed at the college level.
“Take this as an experience of how your college life will be, because your college professor won’t tell you ‘this is due,’” Castillo advised the students. “If you don’t pay attention to the syllabus, you won’t pass the class.”
Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President at The College Board, said data show that 300,000 students nationwide who have the ability to do AP courses currently do not have access to them.
The problem is particularly pronounced among minority students, he said, citing statistics that show for every ten Hispanic students with a demonstrated ability to do AP courses, only three get into AP courses. Among African-American students, he said, only two out of ten such students get into the courses.
Packer also cited figures that show 85 percent of college admissions officers say AP courses impact whether they admit a student to college, and that 31 percent of colleges and universities “tie scholarships” to whether a student has taken AP.
“So what your district is saying is we want students to qualify for admission to the top universities and get scholarships,” Packer told the students.
Asked if it made sense to expand AP courses at a time when many schools do not offer basic science courses such as physics and chemistry, Walcott said he didn’t see it as an “either-or” proposition.
A recent report by the Center for New York City Affairs shows most city high schools do not offer a full college prep curriculum. The report said only 28 of 342 of the city’s high school offer Algebra 2, Chemistry and Physics and that 46 of the schools offered none of those courses.
David Ward, principal of the Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School, one of the schools participating in the AP expansion initiative, said the grant will provide all materials, in-depth training for teachers, and extra help to prepare for AP exams in the spring. “To offer support not only from the human resources standpoint but a financial standpoint is huge," he said. “Really, all we have to do is have a couple of teachers step up, which we did,” he said.
Here's a list of the 55 schools where there will be expanded AP courses.
Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School
Astor Collegiate Academy
Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts
Bronx Lab School
Bronx School of Law and Finance
Health Opportunities High School
The Marie Curie School for Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions
University Heights Secondary School
Academy for Young Writers
Automotive High School
Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment
Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School
Brooklyn Lab School
Brooklyn School for Global Studies
Brooklyn School for Music & Theatre
Brooklyn Studio Secondary School
Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School
Cypress Hills Collegiate Preparatory School
East New York Family Academy
EBC High School for Public Service–Bushwick
Green School: An Academy for Environmental Careers
High School for Civil Rights
High School for Medical Professions
Performing Arts and Technology High School
School for International Studies
Science, Technology and Research Early College High School at Erasmus
Secondary School for Journalism
The Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice
W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School
William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School
World Academy for Total Community Health High School
Business of Sports High School
Central Park East High School
Coalition School for Social Change
High School of Arts and Technology
N.Y.C. Museum School
New Design High School
New Heights Academy Charter School
Pace High School
Park East High School
Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts
School of the Future High School
The College Academy
Urban Assembly New York Harbor School
August Martin High Schoo
Channel View School for Research
East-West School of International Studies
Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School
George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences
High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety
Mathematics, Science Research and Technology Magnet High School
Queens Vocational and Technical High School
Young Women's Leadership School, Queens
Ralph R. McKee Career and Technical Education High School