The start of the school year has been a catalyst for more change at DHS, with the introduction of the 7 Plus PASE schedule and the addition of new faculty members. However, potentially the most underlying change is ironically the one that will have the biggest impact on students’ futures if utilized efficiently. The Advanced Placement program at DHS has unleashed fast-paced, rigorous courses to students who have set out to challenge themselves – and this year the end goal of receiving college credit will be more accessible.
The College Board has introduced new tools and changes to help students pass the end of year AP exam. The decision to push forward registrations to the fall nationwide was driven by the fact that students perform better on the exam when committed earlier. A recent study conducted by The College Board in the 2017-18 school year had 40,000 students engage in fall registration, and the results produced 5% more white/Asian students, and 12% more underrepresented minority students receiving a 3 or higher on the AP exam. Early registration motivates students to stick with course material throughout the year since they are committed from the start of the year to the finish.
The fall registration isn’t the only change that the College Board is rolling out this year. AP Classrooms, which can be found on the College Board website under MyAP, offer new innovative tools for both teachers and students. Among the many resources within AP classrooms, Unit Guides comprise every topic and skill that will appear on the AP exam, while Personal Progress Checks will see just how well students understand each unit. In a more independent light, the Performance Dashboard individualizes and targets which topics AP students may be struggling with, and moreover the AP Question Bank is a library of real AP questions. If students ever feel the need to study for the AP exam with material separate from the AP course they’re enrolled in, the online AP Classroom contains specific information that may appear on the AP exam. With free, easy help right at students’ fingertips, it would be a shame if students didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.
DHS has also taken a new step in helping their AP students succeed. As some students may remember from the AP Kickoff assembly, under the partnership with Mass Insight, DHS students will join students from other Southcoast schools in specialized Saturday study sessions for their STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) + English AP courses. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the AP Kickoff Assembly was in fact “for students to understand the importance of the Saturday sessions,” said Associate Principal Rachel Chavier, who helped organize the assembly. Throughout the course of the school year, these Saturday sessions will be “a unique opportunity to have some of the best teachers to coach our kids,” she said. This is because experienced teachers from distant locations will provide variation in learning from the teachers that AP students are accustomed to every day in school.
Although the plethora of new resources may be either unknown by students or simply ignored, it is a matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Results from the new tools of both the College Board and Mass Insight show that the number of kids who passed the AP exam significantly increased, and if our students work hard and utilize what they’re given then DHS may be headed on the same trajectory.
Ms. Chavier said, “This is an opportunity that not every school receives.”