AP training program benefits students

Published 10:58 am Tuesday, October 2, 2012

By KATIE McDOWELL / Lifestyles Editor

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing several local principals about a program that has made a big difference in their schools.

The program is the A+ College Ready Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program. What I found is that the program has helped increase both the number of students enrolled in AP classes and the number of students who make qualifying scores on their final examinations.

That’s a big deal for the schools and, more importantly, for the students.

Students who make qualifying scores on AP tests may be able to receive college credit for some classes, which can save a lot of money. Even students who don’t pass the examinations benefit from AP classes, simply because they are better prepared for college-level classes.

Calera High and Shelby County High participated in the program last year, while Montevallo High and Vincent High were added this year.

One of the interesting facts about the program is that it’s “teacher-driven.”

AP teachers participate in professional development workshops to learn how to create effective AP classes.

Vincent High Principal Joel Dixon, who served as assistant principal at Calera High last year when the program was implemented there, said the program has a school-wide effect. Teachers who receive the training use those skills in their other classes, and other teachers also adopt the practices, he said.

“What it did in Calera and what I hope it does at Vincent is you see AP mentality start to permeate the entire school,” he said. “It really is a cultural shift in your school to an increased degree of rigor.”

I think it’s great the program depends on teachers to make the difference in these classes.

However, that’s not all the program offers. It also includes quarterly assessments and tutoring for AP students with professional instructors, funds for class supplies or literature and funds to cover the cost of students’ AP examinations.

The A+ College Ready Training Program has already made a big difference in the lives of many Shelby County students. I hope the program expands to other schools in the future.

Katie McDowell is the lifestyles editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 19 or by email at katie.mcdowell@shelbycountyreporter.com.