Principal Leadership - April 2015 - (Page 60)

breaking ranks in practice Equity and Access How to fairly recognize the desire to achieve Mark Anderson and Leslie Stotlar E ach year the nonprofit College Board connects students to programs and services such as the SAT and the Advanced Placement program. A long-time advocate for open-access policies in the AP program, the College Board's equity and access policy statement sets the standard for equitable access to programs. It reads as follows: "The College Board strongly encourages educators to make equitable access a guiding principle for their AP programs by giving all willing and academically prepared students the opportunity to participate in AP. We encourage educators to eliminate barriers that restrict access to AP for students from ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups that have been traditionally underserved; make every effort to ensure their AP classes reflect the diversity of their student population; and provide all students with access to academically challenging coursework before they enroll in AP classes. Only through a commitment to equitable preparation and access can true equity and excellence be achieved" (College Board, 2015). John Marshall Fundamental Secondary School in Pasadena, CA, does its best to adhere to the admonition of the College Board. Purposeful focus on removing barriers to the AP classes, advocacy for diversity through actions, and development of a pre-AP program beginning in sixth grade has resulted is drastic growth in students taking and succeeding in AP courses. Marshall serves 1,924 students in grades 6-12. Sixty-seven 60 Principal Leadership | April 2015 percent of students receive free and reduced-price lunch, and 52 percent come from families where both parents have not attended college. Marshall is ethnically diverse, with a demographic that is 64 percent Latino, 10 percent African American, 17 percent white, 3 percent Asian American, and 6 percent other. Fifty-eight percent of the students speak a language other than English in the home, representing 17 different languages, and 10 percent have IEPs. In 1998, the time period when Marshall began to institutionalize Open Access to AP courses, Marshall enrolled the same number of students with similar demographics to today; 107 students took 154 tests in eight subjects. In 2014, 422 students took 1,068 tests in 22 subjects. Of the 241 seniors, just under two-thirds took at least one AP exam, and almost 95 percent are enrolled in a two- or four-year college. The Open Access Policy has also led to marked gains in SAT participation and performance. In 2006 (the first year with the mandatory writing exam), 58 percent of seniors took the SAT, and 12 percent scored greater than or equal to 1500. Now, 75 percent of seniors have taken the SAT with 44 percent scoring greater than or equal to 1500, and Marshall's cohort graduation rate consistently tops 95 percent. In 2003 the College Board recognized Marshall with its Inspiration Award. Prior to implementing the College Board's Equity and Access Policy, Marshall was part of a pedagogical movement on mastering the basics. The steps Marshall has taken over the years to emphasize rigor and opportunity have been both purposeful and strategic. This progress began with a social studies teacher who allowed any student who expressed interest into his AP class. Soon the entire social studies department adopted the same policy. The initial growth and diversity had begun in the AP courses; however, many students did not take advantage of the Open Access Policy to enroll in AP classes. Marshall recognized that even by having an Open Access Policy, de facto barriers were still in place. Students and parents put up their own barriers based on their self-perceptions of their academic ability. Rather than wait for students to come to them, teachers, counselors, and administrators sought out underrepresented minority students and first-generation college students to enroll in AP courses. As students began to break barriers, peers and parents took note of the positive experiences in the class and were more willing to embark on the challenge as well. Students entering AP courses for the first time their junior or senior year enjoyed the experience but also felt that they were starting the year behind. Marshall teachers developed a ninth-grade elective course to prepare students for the rigor of AP, and enrolled ninth graders into the pre-AP elective to give them a head start on preparing for AP classes. Following the model the social studies teachers developed, other

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal Leadership - April 2015

Solution Tree
From the Editor
Bulletin Board
Cases in Point
Pepperdine University
Healthy Schools, Healthy Students
Advocates for Acceptance
ASCD
Creating a Socially Inclusive School
Out of the Darkness: Making Student Mental Health a Priority
Combating Cyberbullying
How Do You Evaluate Leadership?
The Common Core and School Improvement
Salsbury Industries
Discussion Guide: The Common Core and School Improvement
Leading in Turbulent Times
Need a Little TLC?
The Principal Story by Nomadic Pictures
Growing Your STEMs
Digital Leader
Instructional Leader
Breaking Ranks in Practice

Principal Leadership - April 2015

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