District 204 Uses AP to Close Achievement Gap

At the last District 204 meeting, the board had some good news from one program they’re using to try and close the achievement gap.

Thanks to Equal Opportunity Schools, a non-profit organization focused on improving education, the number of low-income and minority students enrolled in AP courses is up 27 percent for next year.

This puts a dent in the enrollment gap that exists for AP in the district: last year, 80 percent of students enrolled in AP classes were white or Asian.

EOS was able to enroll 137 more low-income or minority students in AP by reaching out to students, creating one-on-one relationships, and encouraging them to push themselves.

“Certain groups are more reluctant to enroll in AP classes, maybe they don’t think they belong there, maybe they don’t have parents who are college educated,” said Tracey Conrad, Equal Opportunity Schools Consultant to District 204. “So it’s harder work to get the underrepresented students enrolled in the classes.”

Students are recommended to the program by faculty who see potential for growth and success through the rigor of advanced classes.

“It’s that relationship part, I think these students are ready for the rigor, they know it’s relevant and so it was that connection really to get them there,” said Laurie James-Schrader, Assistant Principal of Metea Valley High School.

Beyond encouraging students to challenge themselves, the program is also meant to help with college: studies show students who have taken AP courses are 10 to 20 percent more likely to complete college than those who haven’t. And those that take and pass an AP exam are 26 to 34 percent more likely to graduate.

The District will continue its partnership with EOS into the 2017-2018 school year.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.

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