Community High School District 117’s Mission Statement reads, “Community High School District 117, being a community of learners with a vision of excellence, is committed to providing an educational experience that encourages all learners to develop to their fullest potential, to engage in lifelong learning, and to be responsible members of society.”
The phrases vision of excellence and fullest potential indicate commitment to providing a challenging and rigorous curriculum that prepares students to “engage in lifelong learning” and to be “responsible members of society” regardless of their chosen path. As such, District 117 believes a quality Advanced Placement (AP) program is an essential part of a comprehensive curriculum, and that it has a responsibility to ensure that as many students as possible who are realistically capable of achieving success participate in our AP offerings.
Boston Latin drops honors courses to open enrollment in AP courses to more students. To read the entire article from The Boston Globe's February 26, 2010 article, click here.
What Is Advanced Placement?
Advanced Placement is a program through the College
Board in which students can earn college credit by enrolling in challenging college-level courses while in high school. In January students typically talk with their teachers and the AP coordinator in their schools to register for exams, which take place the first and second week of May. In additional to multiple choice questions, all exams require a written essay response to a prompt. Additional information about the AP programming can be found on www.collegeboard.com.
Advantages of Participation
Students who take AP courses can:
• Earn college credit
• Increase their options for acceptance at a college
• Be prepared for the rigors of college level courses
• Save money on college tuition by earning college credit, graduating
in less time, and avoiding remedial courses
Rationale for Our Focus on AP
In 2008-2009, 81 percent of the students at Antioch and 89% of the students at Lakes pursued educational opportunities beyond high school, up from a district figure of 73 percentin 2003-2004. The chart below indicates that in the last five years, the percentage of students from District 117 who enrolled in four-year colleges increased over 10 percent..
Percentage of District 117 Students Enrolled in
Numbers from 2003-2006 represent only Antioch High
School, as Lakes High School did not graduate any students until spring
A University of Texas study found that a higher percentage
of students who took an AP course and corresponding exam graduated from
college in four years. These students also had higher grade point averages
in their first and fourth year of college. Below are examples of data
from that study.
Percent of 2002 Texas High School Graduates Who
Took AP Language and Composition and Graduated from a Public College or
University in Four Years
|Course and Exam
||Standard HS Curriculum
|Just over 40%
Four-Year College GPA of 2002 Texas High School
Graduates Who Took AP Calculus AB
Linda Hargrove and Barbara Dodd (2007)
|Course and Exam
||Standard HS Curriculum
In District 117, our goal is not merely to provide students
with the necessary academic experience to get accepted to college. Rather,
our goal is to provide them with the necessary academic experience to
graduate from college and be financially secure in an increasingly competitive
world. The chart below highlights the importance of a college degree.
Average Annual Earnings
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2000
|Some High School
College Cost Savings
Students who earn a score three or higher out of five on an AP exam may
earn college credit for that course depending on the school in which they
enroll. The cost of an AP exam is $84. Weighed against the potential cost
savings of earning college credit, not to mention increasing the likelihood
of graduating in four years, the investment is minimal. Fee waivers are
available for students who are encountering financial difficulties. The
chart below shows the projected cost savings at selected Illinois state
universities assuming a four-credit college course, a full-time semester
load of four classes, and 2007-2008 tuition. Additional costs for housing,
books, etc., are not included in the chart.
|U of I
District 117 AP Offerings
Students do not have to be “Straight A” students to participate
in the AP program in District 117. In fact, all students are encouraged
to enroll in at least one AP course during their high school career. District
117 offers the following AP courses:
• Calculus AB
• Calculus BC
• European History
• English Literature and Composition
• Music Theory
• Physics B
• US History
How Are We Doing?
In 2009, 335 students took 552 AP exams, up from 238 and 407 in 2008, 219 and 363 in 2007, and 180 and 302 in 2006. In 2009, 18.1% of the seniors at Antioch and 15.8% of the seniors at Lakes passed an AP test with a score of three or higher. The 2008 figures were 19.8% and 11.7%, respectively. Both nationally and statewide, the average is about 15%. New York leads all states with an average of about 23%.
Every teacher that teaches an AP Course has attended AP Training. These teachers periodically attend workshops to stay current with the changes in the courses and expectations of the College Board. In addition, the district has invested heavily in training as many teachers as possible in AP instructional strategies so that all teachers can incorporate rigorous instruction in all classes to better prepare students to be ready for AP courses when they are upperclassmen. English and Math have invested in summer curriculum work to vertically articulate its curriculum, and Foreign Language is beginning the process as it undergoes its curriculum revisions. During the 2006-2007 school year, the College Board conducted an audit of high schools that offer Advanced Placement Courses. AP teachers were required to submit a syllabus to ensure that any course offered by a high school with AP designation conformed to the College Board’s rigorous standards. In District 117, all AP course at both campuses passed the audit.
Do Students Say?
Students who participate in AP Courses in District 117 say that the classes,
while challenging, are interesting and excellent preparation for college.
Below is a sampling of comments from District 117 students who have taken
or are taking AP courses.
Through challenging coursework and riveting in class
discussions, AP classes build character and prepare students for the future.
— Josh Woolard, Antioch High School Class of 2008
Being in AP English and AP Calculus AB this year has
really broadened my horizons. The teachers guide you in using higher level
thinking and help you become a stronger student. You begin to develop
your own studying methods and learn to use your resources. The experience
gives me a taste of what is to come in college. They require a lot of
hard work and teaching yourself outside the classroom.”
— Anokni Patel, Lakes High School Class of 2008
AP Courses give students the challenge to excel and
go above-and-beyond the expectations of a regular class.
— Nicole Hojnacki, Antioch High School Class of 2008
AP English is a great course that helps prepare you
for your college endeavors. The class load is intense, but manageable
if you’re smart with your time.”
— Kateri Tumminello, Lakes High School Class of 2008
District 117 Comprehensive Plan
for AP Program Improvement
In the spring of 2007, District 117 convened a focus group comprised of parents, students, teachers and administrators to discuss the district’s AP Program. The Chicago Area Directors of Curriculum and Assessment (CADCA) annually track the performance of suburban Chicago schools. This allows for districts to measure how their students are performing in relation to similar districts. Information from the focus group discussion and data from CADCA are the foundation of the four program goals listed below and the subsequent benchmarks for measuring progress toward achieving these goals.
1) Increase total enrollment in AP courses
2) Increase the number of exams taken by students
3) Increase the number of three-plus exams
4) Align honors courses with AP offerings
Benefits of Achieving Goals
1) Increase junior test scores by focusing on curricular alignment of
freshman and sophomore feeder courses
2) Improve the college readiness of District 117 graduates
3) Potentially assist graduates in their financing of college through
attaining credit, improving their chances of graduating in four years,
and/or increasing options and scholarship opportunities by improved ACT
4) Demonstrate to the community that we are providing academic programming
for our top academic students commensurate with other suburban areas
5) Establish a district culture in which high expectations and outstanding
academic achievement are considered the norm
Action Steps to Achieving Goals
1) Effectively communicate to faculty the purpose, importance, and specifics
of the AP initiative
2) Approve summer curriculum work that focuses on curricular alignment
of honors courses with AP capstone courses
3) Publicize district AP programming in publications, at public forums,
and on the district website
4) Encourage teachers and counselors to actively market the program and
recruit appropriate students into the programs
5) Continue to convene the AP Committee to monitor plan, communicate with
all segments of the community, and celebrate successes
Timeline/Benchmarks for Program Improvement
*Figures for 2010-2011 assume an enroooment increase of 100 students. Achieving the first three goals would move District 117 into the
50th percentile among suburban schools.
1) Increase the Total Enrollment in AP Courses
|# Enrolled in AP Courses
|Estimated % upper classmen enrolled in an AP Course
||55.4% (Goal: 38.6%)
|%3+ Tests per 100 Students Needed to Achieve Goal
||43.6% (Actual: 40.6%)
Italicized numbers are projections
*AP European History is a sophomore offering.
a) Assumption: All students enrolled in AP Courses take one exam. Many
students will take more than one exam, but it is impossible to predict
that number with any accuracy.
b) The average pass rate for suburban schools in 2005-2006 was 80.2%.
The average pass rate in Illinois is 69.8%. The average pass rate nationally
c) The percent of District 117 2005-2006 graduates that attended a four-year
college was 45%. That number is likely to grow as the community continues
2) Increase the Number of Exams Taken by Students
|Total # Tests
||20.2 (Goal: 16.8)
Italicized numbers are projections
3) Increase the Number of Three-Plus Exams
|Total #3+ Tests
||11.2 (Goal: 12.1)
Italicized numbers are projections
4) Honors Articulation:
Summer 2008 and 2009 – Math
Summer 2009 – English
Summer 2009-2010 School Year – All departments develop common formative assessments at the level of rigor of the target standard(s)
Summer 2010 – Foreign Language
Summer 2011 – Science
Nation-wide, the call is for high schools to improve the rigor of their
curriculum. A recent report from the Alliance for Excellent Education
(2007) indicates that only 34% of the students who take the ACT Exam meet
College Readiness Standards. The National Assessment of Educational Progress
(www.thenationsreportcard.com, retrieved September 26, 2007) reports that
in 2005, only 35% of high school seniors were proficient in reading as
compared with 40% in 1992. A mere 23% were proficient in math.
A typical trend in measures of student achievement shows
that the number of elementary school students who meet or exceed standards
on state tests is markedly higher than the number of high school students
who meet or exceed standards. Not surprisingly then, elementary school
students compare more favorably in international comparisons. In a 2005
national study of 1.5 million activities and 500,000 assessments, DataWorks,
an educational research firm, found that through grade three, the work
assigned in classes is closely aligned with grade level standards. However,
the trend decreases each year so that by the time students are in high
school, the average assignment level for freshman is the equivalent of
grade level 6.6, sophomores seven, and juniors and seniors 7.8. This means
that high school seniors, on average, are assigned work that is over four
grade levels below standards.
According to On Wisconsin (Fall 2007), nine of
10 students who enrolled as freshmen at the University of Wisconsin in
2007 took AP classes in high school. Admissions counselors at Wisconsin
barely look at students who do not have ambitious transcripts. Kelly Olson,
Assistant Director of Freshman Recruitment stated, “We want (students)
to take (difficult) classes so that they’re better prepared for
what they’ll face when they come here.”
In District 117, we are collectively committed to doing
everything within our means to prepare our graduates for success in college.
We believe a partnership with parents and students that increases the
focus on Advanced Placement programming is a major component to ensuring