How Lake Park is driving its AP programs

This school year, Lake Park High School in Roselle earned the distinction as one of only nine school districts in Illinois - and 120 school districts nationwide - accepted into the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Equity & Excellence Project.

This partnership, supported by the Google Global Impact Awards and the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University, has provided match-funded technical assistance to help close the achievement gap and ensure students of every background have opportunity and access to a rigorous education.

In the fall, all students participated in a brief survey conducted jointly by Lake Park and Equal Opportunity Schools. The purpose of the survey was to learn more about the perceptions of the existing AP programs; uncover attitudes about college readiness and college aspirations; reveal causes of equity issues; identify students who have the potential to benefit from increased academic challenge; and gather information about current resources and supports for students and staff.

Maximizing student input (grades 9 through 12) helped to identify access barriers and increased the likelihood of enhancing Lake Park's current AP program.

The consultative services of EOS provided through frequent campus visits, as well as the student and staff surveys, offered valuable insights about current grade 10 and 11 underrepresented students who could benefit from AP courses.

The West Campus administrative team hosted more than 100 attendees at an informational evening in January designed for families with students new to AP. The encouragement and support network reduced barriers for underrepresented students interested in enrolling for 2016-17.

Lake Park's efforts with EOS have seen a 20 percent increase in the number of low income and minority students registering for AP courses over last year. Given that our outreach initiatives have not yet concluded, this number may continue to rise.

In the five years, from 2011-2015, Lake Park has experienced a 54 percent increase (or 502 exams) in the number of AP exams taken each spring. Our Lancers continue to challenge themselves, and the impressive results reveal their college-readiness.

During this period of rapid growth, the number of AP exams with scores of 3 or better (out of 5) has not changed, but rather has remained steady at about 81 percent. This success rate measures significantly above the national average of 59 percent of all AP exams with scores of 3 or better.

Our quality AP results reflect the staff commitment to teaching and student commitment to learning. Lake Park was proud to share our best practices and strategies during a national College Board AP conference last summer and has received a special repeat invitation this year.

Social Studies Curriculum Leader Don Fulmer and teachers Scott Mackey, Stacey Mosquera and John Powell will present in July 2016 in Anaheim, California. "Charting a Course for Success: Implementing AP Human Geography at the Freshman Level" will spotlight one of Lake Park's curriculum success stories.

As anticipated, the AP test registration for May 2016 is already on pace to exceed last year's count of 1,438 exams in 26 different subject areas. The momentum of the Equity & Excellence Project is growing, and we are excited for even more students to continue challenging themselves academically.

• Lynne Panega is superintendent of Lake Park High School District 108. Her column appears in Neighbor monthly during the school year.

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