Damond is bound for college success.

Making a gift on #GivingTuesday will put more students on this path AND help us secure a $5,000 challenge grant!

At Mass Insight Education, we have a track record for empowering students to achieve college and career success.

Our work in Boston, throughout Massachusetts, and across the nation ensures ALL students have access to a high-quality education, regardless of gender, race, or zip code. And donors like you make our work possible.

This #GivingTuesday, November 29, we invite you to make your gift in support of a high-quality education for all students. If we reach our goal of 50 online donors, we will secure a $5,000 challenge grant from MIE Board Member Margery Piercey .*

Will you join us and invest in future generations? 

Make your gift below TODAY and be a part of the movement.

 


See how your gift can make an impact by getting to know MIE students Maybelline and Natan, as well as Kaitlyn.

*Donors who make a gift of $1,000 or more are recognized as leaders in closing the achievement gap as part of Mass Insight Education’s Michael G. Contompasis Giving Society

Math and science have always been my favorite subjects,” says Kaitlyn Goncalves, a junior at New Bedford High School. “Taking Advanced Placement (AP®) Biology my sophomore year helped me decide that I wanted to be in the medical field.” Kaitlyn took AP Biology her sophomore year—it was her first AP class and her experience helped her find her passion to pursue science in college and in her career.

Kaitlyn has dreams of one day being a pharmacist. After taking AP Biology, she says she feels prepared for college-level classes and is taking three more AP classes her junior year, including AP Chemistry and AP Calculus.

For too many female students, especially those from low-income or minority families, encouragement and support to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, or math is not common. While women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, they only represent 29% of the science and engineering workforce. But female students like Kaitlyn are well-prepared to change that trend because of increased access to and support in AP STEM classes that prepare them for the challenge of college classes.

Kaitlyn studying at table

New Bedford High School joined MIE’s AP STEM and English program in 2014, and since then, enrollment in AP classes has nearly doubled, growing from 213 students in 2013 to 411 students in 2016. MIE focuses on increasing AP enrollment with a particular focus on low-income and minority students, and  female students in AP math and science classes. More than 75% of students attending New Bedford are low income, 22.5% are English Language Learners, and 31.8% are former English Language Learners. As the school continues to grow its AP enrollment, MIE supports staff and teachers in increasing the performance of students, better preparing them for success in college.

Kaitlyn’s AP Biology teacher, Anne Oliveira, attended MIE’s Advanced Placement Summer Institute, where AP teachers from all around Massachusetts and the U.S. come together for one or two weeks of professional development aimed at helping them sharpen their skills to lead diverse AP classrooms.

Kaitlyn says that her passionate, well-trained teacher and a school environment that encouraged more students to take rigorous AP classes made all the difference for her. She learned to balance the demands of intensive reading and lab work in her AP Biology class and has already started looking at colleges in Massachusetts that offer degrees in pre-med or pharmacy. “I feel really well prepared for college already,” she says. Students who take at least one AP class in high school are more likely to graduate from college within four years.

In Massachusetts, the overall rate at which students earn college degrees will pivot from growth to decline by 2022, according to a 2016 report from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. In New Bedford, where less than 20% of resident 25 and older hold a Bachelor’s degree, the median household income is approximately $34,000 with an 8% unemployment rate. By preparing and empowering more students to succeed and graduate from college, MIE actively works to close the gap for future generations across the state.

Kaitlyn in library

Each year, MIE serves more than 10,000 students like Kaitlyn across more than 75 public schools in Massachusetts like New Bedford High through its AP STEM and English program, in addition to supporting struggling school districts across the nation. Since the program’s inception, MIE has more than tripled the number of qualifying AP exam scores for female students and more than quadrupled qualifying AP exam scores for African-American and Hispanic students, showing tremendous improvement in college readiness for these students.

MIE students are more likely to matriculate, persist, and graduate from college, and that means more youth in our communities prepared to be innovators in the face of 21st century challenges. This critical work is made possible by individual donors like you, donors committed to empowering all students with a high quality education.

Your gift means more students like Kaitlyn have the opportunity to take rigorous classes with highly trained teachers that prepare them for college. Your gift means more students like Kaitlyn see doors open to many career paths that can come with $830,000 more in lifetime earnings.

Will you make a gift today to support a high-quality education for more students like Kaitlyn?

(PS: Between now and March 31, 2017, your gift of $1,000 or more will be matched dollar for dollar thanks to a generous Mass Insight Education supporter, Bill Schawbel, who has agreed to match all gifts to The Contompasis Giving Society up to a total of $50,000.)










$29 provides one AP student with 12 hours of extended learning time in one subject.
$79 fills one MIE classroom with books and supplies.
$186 allows one MIE student to benefit from MIE’s AP STEM and English program year-round










$255 allows a classroom of AP students to take a mock AP exam.
$500 sends one teacher to a two-day professional development workshop.
$1,200* allows one AP teacher to attend a week-long AP training




Every gift makes an impact toward closing the achievement gap.

*Donors who make a gift of $1,000 or more are recognized as leaders in closing the achievement gap as part of Mass Insight Education’s Michael G. Contompasis Giving Society

What does a high-quality education mean to you?

For Mass Insight Education and Research, a high-quality education means systems and schools that fully empower students to pursue college and the career of their dreams. A recognized national leader in school turnaround, Mass Insight closes the achievement gap in Massachusetts and across the country.

As a part of our work in Massachusetts, Mass Insight partners with administrators, teachers and students in nearly 80 schools throughout our Advanced Placement (AP©) STEM and English program. Using the college-level AP platform to build academic rigor in schools, Mass Insight increases the enrollment and performance of low-income students, students of color, and English Language Learners in AP classes.

Boston Public Schools students Maybelline Perez and Natan Santos are two of the more than 10,000 students in Massachusetts who benefit from a high-quality education critical for college and career success.

Mass Insight is changing outcomes for students. This critical work is made possible by donors like you, donors committed to empowering all students with a high-quality education.

Natan in library

Meet Natan Santos

“I always cared for school work but I needed more challenging courses to help me develop into a great student,” says Natan Santos, a senior at New Mission High School located in Boston’s Hyde Park. “Once I got serious, I started taking two math classes a year to prepare for harder classes and AP classes.” Natan took three AP classes his junior year and is taking five in his senior year, including AP Calculus and AP Biology.

A low-income, Latino student, Natan says he went from doubting his academic ability to writing and presenting interdisciplinary research papers because of a school environment that encouraged more students like him to take rigorous classes.

At New Mission High School, more than 90% of students are students of color and more than 45% are economically disadvantaged. Since the school entered Mass Insight’s AP STEM and English program in 2013, it has nearly doubled the number of students enrolled in AP classes and has quadrupled the number of students receiving an AP exam score that qualifies for college credit.

Natan spent the summer before his senior year taking classes at Harvard University and considering his options for college. “People doubted me before,” he says. “But now I feel ready to do well in college; I feel like college is a real option for me.”

Maybelline

Meet Maybelline Perez

“My dad always told me that no matter where you go, you’re always going to have your education,” says Maybelline Perez, a senior at East Boston High School. “It’s going to give you the power to do so many things.”

Maybelline has aspirations to study public health or public policy and become a doctor—and she’s preparing for college by taking as many challenging AP classes as she can.

At East Boston High, more than 80% of students are students of color and more than 75% are high needs. Since the school entered Mass Insight’s AP STEM and English program in 2011, the number of low-income students who receive a qualifying score on an AP exam grew by 400% over three years.

Maybelline’s motivation to prepare for college and career has come from her parents and from engaging teachers. This year, she’s challenging herself with four more AP classes, including Calculus and Physics. And she’s already got her eye on several colleges in Boston like Northeastern University, Simmons College, and Harvard University.

Empower More Students 

Natan and Maybelline are both prepared for the challenges of college and career, thanks to Mass Insight’s AP STEM and English program. Students who take at least one AP class in high school are more likely to graduate from college within four years. The possibilities for students who earn a qualifying score of a 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam are even more significant: African-American students are 21% more likely to graduate from college, Hispanic students are 27% more likely, and low-income students are 32% more likely.

A high-quality education is crucial for college and career success. Among Boston Public Schools students who graduated in 2009, more than half of minority students who went on to attend college ultimately dropped out, and only 37% of all students from the class of 2009 graduated with a college or professional degree within six years.

Since the program’s inception, Mass Insight has more than tripled the number of qualifying AP exam scores for female students and more than quadrupled qualifying AP exam scores for African-American and Hispanic students. 

Mass Insight students are more likely to persist in and graduate from college, and that means more youth in our communities prepared to thrive. Your gift allows more students like Maybelline and Natan to benefit from the kind of education that empowers them with opportunity.

Make your gift today to support a high-quality education for students like Natan and Maybelline.

$29 provides one AP student with 12 hours of extended learning time in one subject.
$79 fills one Mass Insight classroom with books and supplies.
$186 allows one Mass Insight student to benefit from Mass Insight’s AP STEM and English program year-round

$255 allows a classroom of AP students to take a mock AP exam.
$500 sends one teacher to a two-day professional development workshop.
$1,200* allows one AP teacher to attend a week-long AP training

Every gift makes an impact toward closing the achievement gap.

*Donors who make a gift of $1,000 or more are recognized as leaders in closing the achievement gap as part of Mass Insight’s Michael G. Contompasis Giving Society

MIE was proud to host nearly 500 pre-AP and Advanced Placement (AP) teachers from Massachusetts and 12 other states as well as Japan, Trinidad and Kuwait – recently at its annual Summer Institute. The Summer Institute runs for two one-week sessions at Bridgewater State University, and teachers take part in intensive, interactive training, and share best practices to prepare for this year’s AP courses. This year, MIE added AP Human Geography and AP Computer Science Principles to its roster of AP math, science, English, and history classes.

To make sure teachers get the most out of this intensive professional development opportunity, MIE brings in seasoned AP educators from across the country who have hands-on experience with creating AP curriculum and reading AP exams to serve as instructors. Their lessons model learning that is rich and comprehensive. For example, in one physics classroom, teachers formed teams to tackle an experiment with motorized toy cars, drawing from the principles of velocity and motion to change their speeds, and in an AP Language and Composition classroom, teachers discussed rhetoric and how to help students engage with current events. In the new AP Human Geography class, an instructor shared insights into how to help students draw from their knowledge of geography when faced with challenging course material.

Over the course of two weeks, teachers strengthened and refined their skills in preparation for another year of molding tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, statisticians, journalists, historians, and innovators.

Changing the culture of a high school requires both strong academic leadership and broader community support dedicated to college success. Getting the steps right about implementing changes to school culture matters a lot, especially when a significant segment of the school’s student population needs extra support to be college ready.

The experience of Worcester South High Community School in raising the expectations for student success, and getting the details of implementation right, is a useful model for understanding school-wide improvement in an urban high school setting and for showing how a program like MIE’s AP STEM and English program can spark school-level, perhaps even district-level, change. Here is how they did it.

The Problem

Prior to joining MIE’s Advanced Placement (AP) STEM and English program, Worcester South’s low AP participation and success rates mirrored those seen in other Massachusetts urban high schools serving predominately low-income students, where only approximately 20 percent of students take an AP course as a junior or senior and less than 10 percent of students score a three or above on an AP exam.

Things began to change in 2009 when Worcester South joined MIE’s AP STEM and English program and administrators and teachers began implementing key components of the program including intensive training for AP teachers, opening access to AP courses to all students and actively recruiting students for AP courses. With the adoption of new practices, a significantly greater number of Worcester South’s students began to take AP course and achieve a qualifying score of three or better on AP exams. 

But not all of the school’s students were participating in the expanded AP program. A close analysis by the “designated administrator” – MIE’s primary contact at the school – and the school’s guidance counselor of the growing number of students enrolling in the AP courses uncovered a very significant challenge. AP participation by Latino students – which in the 2014-2015 school year represented 43.3 percent of the school’s enrollment – was not growing. Even after two years in the program, the percent of Latino students taking AP courses had not increased.

Worcester South band
Worcester South’s band gave a fantastic performance at our 2016 Partners in Excellence Award celebration. Here they are with our keynote speaker, Eric Waldo, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative.

The Solution

Reversing this troubling trend required both new thinking about how to engage and support Latino students and staff-level leadership rising to the challenge both in the school and the community. In this case, Worcester South’s guidance counselor, with the support of the school’s principal, spearheaded several key and proactive initiatives, including:.

  • The LEAP Committee 

Planning began with the formation of a committee charged with exploring why Latinos were not enrolling in AP courses. With strong support from the principal, the guidance counselor formed a committee and invited all interested staff and administrators to participate. To build a greater sense of shared responsibility for helping Latino students succeed, the guidance counselor reached out to the business community, the broader Latino community, local colleges (Clark and Worcester State universities are nearby), and former Latino AP students. The committee – which named itself Latinos Excelling in Advanced Placement, or LEAP – included multiple stakeholders and was used as a forum to brainstorm ideas and strategies for improving AP participation.

LEAP got to work examining the transcripts for each Latino student, looking for trends in course taking patterns and identifying students with potential. The guidance counselor soon discovered that a lack of confidence was the key reason keeping Latino students from enrolling in AP. She encouraged Latino students to enroll in AP Spanish and AP Spanish Literature (a new AP course, specifically offered as a result of this work), to show students that they could indeed succeed in AP courses. Many of these students subsequently enrolled in AP math, science and English courses.

  • Middle School Outreach

The guidance counselor and AP teachers met with parents and students at Worcester South’s feeder middle schools, conducting the sessions in Spanish and translating into Spanish AP information material from the College Board and MIE. These sessions increased awareness of AP courses and how they helped in college success, and stressed to parents the information they needed to know to make sure their students were on track to take these courses. Worcester South also recruited current Latino AP students to visit local middle schools to tutor students and serve as role models.

  • Community Outreach

Both the guidance counselor and principal also shared information on AP courses at local churches, many of them Spanish speaking. Too often, school leaders overlook these important institutions as a vehicle to engage the community and support school improvement strategies. In Worcester, the local churches helped to build the social capital that contributed to the program’s success.

  • ELL Support

Worcester South also created a separate study session for English Language Learners (ELL) interested in taking AP courses. This sent an important message to ELL students: Worcester South’s faculty and staff truly believed that Latino students, even those still identified as ELL, were expected to take AP courses. 

  • All-School Recruitment

Worcester South holds an annual all-school AP recruiting fair, complete with signs, slogans and activities, to promote enrollment in AP courses and sponsors an AP club for AP students to build comradery.

Results

Thanks to these initiatives, the number of Latino juniors and seniors taking at least one AP course more than doubled from 2009-2010 (the first year of program impact), when 18 students took an AP class to 2014-2015, when 37 students took an AP class. The changes to school culture implemented by Worcester South did not just stop with boosting participation in the AP program, however. There also was a dramatic improvement in students’ MCAS scores in English and STEM classes for all students and Latino students in particular.

You don’t need me to tell you that college is expensive (and getting more so). To cover the cost, students are taking out staggering amounts of student loans that leave them, in some cases, with a college degree in one hand and a pseudo-mortgage payment in the other.

Needless to say, it’s hard for students to get a financial leg up if they’re throwing a disproportionate amount of their income at their student loans for the first 10 (or 20 or 30) years after they graduate. In Colorado, the state Legislature has come up with a novel proposal for how to help new graduates clear the obstacle of student loans while also building up the state’s talent pipeline in high-need areas.

In short, the state wants to give STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) businesses a tax credit of up to $200,000 a year if those businesses help their workers pay off student loans, up to a maximum of $5,000 per employee per year. There are a few caveats about what employees are eligible (including that it’s limited to workers making less than $60,000 a year), but it sounds like an interesting, win-win way to help students and the state’s economy.

While there’s no doubt that a student’s academic readiness for college plays a huge role in whether he will persist through to graduation, we shouldn’t underestimate the financial barriers to completion as well. Programs like the Colorado proposal not only help students with their loans but also provide incentives that can help align the college experience with the needs of the workforce.

Happy 2015! Due to some scheduling changes, our post on the edu-trends to watch out for in the coming year has been postponed a week. In the meantime, however, I wanted to highlight an interesting article that I came across in the NY Times on teaching trends in higher education science courses.

As we’ve written about on the blog before, there is a looming STEM shortage in this country: more jobs requiring STEM skills and knowledge, and not enough highly skilled STEM graduates in the pipeline. There are many factors playing into this shortage, but one issue is that many of the students who start college on a path to a STEM major don’t stay the course. According to the NY Times article, 28 percent of students at four-year colleges start out in a science, engineering or math major, but only 16 percent of bachelor’s degrees are granted in those areas.

The article highlights colleges and universities that are trying to do something about that attrition rate by changing the way introductory science classes are taught, shifting from a traditional “chalk and talk” approach to a style that emphasizes student engagement and small groups. While it sounds like it is still early days for this new style, there is some evidence that it could have a positive effect on student learning: the University of Colorado reported in 2008 that, among students in an introductory physics course, those that participated in the “transformed” classes improved their scores by 50 percent more than those in traditional classes, according to the NY Times article.

A change in teaching style at the post-secondary level isn’t likely to solve the STEM shortage all by itself, but it’s certainly an interesting approach to ponder.

Yesterday, the White House announced new commitments to supporting computer science education that are giving more students access to technology education across the country. This follows President Obama’s call to action last winter for students, businesses, nonprofit organizations, students, and foundations to come together to support K-12 computer science education.

Yesterday’s announcement covered funding, partnerships, outreach, and a successful campaign to increase the number of computer science courses offered to students.

For the sake of increasing STEM opportunities, let’s talk numbers:

  • The philanthropic community committed over $20 million to the cause.
  • More than 60 districts, including some big names such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and others, committed to offering computer science courses to their students. That’s over four million students in more than 1,000 middle and high schools across the country!
  • The College Board will add to its repertoire of more than 30 AP courses with an AP Computer Science course and exam.
  • These commitments also aim to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science. Today, women only represent 12 percent of all computer science graduates.

This is all good news for STEM education, especially in terms of preparing youth for the skills the workforce will require when they reach graduation. If the education world can keep up the momentum, we’re one step closer to graduating college and career ready students from all schools.

Thanksgiving could be the time of year where family members hook onto one or two education news headlines they’ve seen over the course of the past few months and begin spitting out what is so often misinformation about a trend, policy, or event in the education sphere. If this sounds like a familiar situation to you, fear not: This year, In the Zone blog writers Charis Anderson and Alison Segal have some talking points for you to set your relatives straight:

“This whole Common Core thing is ridiculous! Since when is the federal government allowed to tell teachers what to teach?”

  • The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were put together by experts and state leaders with input from teachers, parents, and other stakeholders.
  • The goal of the standards is to ensure that all students in the U.S. will be taught with the same rigor and under the same high expectations, meaning that when a child moves from Mississippi to Massachusetts, that child has mastered the same skills as students in Massachusetts and is ready to dive in.
  • The Common Core is not a curriculum; teachers, principals, and superintendents can still make local decision about how to teach.
  • What the Common Core is is a set of “consistent education standards [that] provide a clear set of shared goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills that will help our students succeed.”
  • Finally, while the Common Core State Standards are a critical first step, we also need a common assessment (such as PARCC) in order to close the expectations gap between states. If states are able to set their own performance standards (i.e. what is tested), they will still be able to post artificially high proficiency rates while graduating students who are not adequately prepared to be successful in college or career.
  • Click here for additional CCSS talking points from ASCD.

 

“Why all this talk about college readiness? A high school diploma was good enough for me!”

 

“These teacher salaries are too damn high!”

  • There is a great deal of evidence showing that teacher quality is one of the most important variables in driving student success in the classroom. But guess what: for something so important, the salary is not competitive enough to drive field experts into classrooms. That means that, specifically in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classrooms, most talented STEM college graduates are choosing lucrative private sector careers over the classroom.
  • Even of the people who do initially choose the classroom, many leave within five years, citing low salaries as one reason. For example, the median starting salary for chemical engineering majors is $67,500 compared to $37,200 for education majors.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

The economy is expected to add about 1 million new STEM jobs by 2022, yet the U.S. has one of the lowest ratios of STEM to non-STEM bachelor’s degrees in the world.  That’s a serious STEM shortage, according to an issue brief released last week by Public Impact. The report mirrors a point we’ve written about before: that it’s widely argued that the U.S. educational system is simply not churning out enough highly qualified STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates to meet the needs of U.S. employers.

Why is this? Students aren’t being adequately prepared by our K-12 systems to pursue STEM degrees once they land in college, according to Public Impact.

Again, why? Public Impact posits that one big reason is a serious lack of skilled STEM teachers – and the numbers it cites are pretty compelling:

  • Twenty-five thousand new STEM teachers are needed every year – and yet fewer than 9,000 highly qualified high school students say they have any interest in going into teaching.
  • Only 10 percent of education majors in the bottom 25 percent of university education schools are taking the courses they need to teach middle school math – and yet that same pool of education schools produces 60 percent of middle school math teachers.
  • In 2013, only 30 percent of eighth graders had math teachers who had majored in math.
  • More than 40 percent of high school STEM teachers leave the profession within their first five years.

Lots of people and groups recognize these troubling statistics and are trying to do something about them, including the 100Kin10 collaborative (of which Mass Insight Education is a partner), which aims to get 100,000 STEM teachers into U.S. classrooms within a decade.

Public Impact’s proposed solution is the creation of what they call an Opportunity Culture – developing new models that redesign jobs or use technology to attract more highly qualified candidates into STEM teaching jobs and then to place those teachers into high-leverage situations where they interact with a large number of students.

We’re excited to see where Opportunity Culture has proven success and then how replicable the approach is. The success of our AP/STEM program stems in part from exposing more students to a rigorous AP curriculum – but also from allowing high-quality AP teachers to reach more students. It’s encouraging to learn about other initiatives that, coupled with our own, could put more students on a path to postsecondary success and increase the number of qualified STEM graduates.

Our monthly news roundup continues below with September’s highlights.

Boston gets first education chief. Early last month, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Turahn Dorsey as the city’s first “chief of education.” The city’s mayors have typically had education advisors; however this is the first position of its kind.

“Education at a Glance 2014.” Findings from the OECD’s newest report are, as usual, pretty grim for the U.S. Among the major findings:

  • Other nations are outpacing the US’s higher education attainment growth rate;
  • The U.S. was one of only six countries to cut public spending for education between 2008 and 2011; and
  • S. teachers spend more time teaching in the classroom than teachers in other countries, though their salaries are not competitive with other nations.

Turnaround for kids. A new report out of The Ounce of Prevention recommends a new set of turnaround metrics to encourage earlier investment in school improvement. Based on the new proposed draft SIG guidelines, there may be a role for this in the next iteration of SIG.

Massachusetts launches a new college success conversation. Last week, we hosted a College Success Research Forum, at which we issued a call to action to commit to two goals for this year’s seventh graders: 1) double the number of low-income students graduating from college; and 2) double the numbers of students earning a STEM degree. Join the campaign now!

They exist, they just aren’t ready. A new report prepared by the FSG research group found that yes, the number of STEM graduates is growing, but a gap exists between the level of preparation these college graduates received and the skills that STEM employers require.

Type the words “STEM crisis” into Google, and it spits back nearly 30,000 results for articles chronicling the current state of science and mathematics preparation among American students and workers. Whether there is a crisis or not is a matter of debate, at least according to the Google results, but what’s not in dispute is the fact that American students are trailing their international peers when it comes to STEM skills and knowledge.

To counteract this trend and to ensure that students are prepared for STEM careers, many states have increased the number of math and science courses students must take in order to graduate from high school, according to a new ACT Research & Policy policy brief by Richard Buddin and Michelle Croft. The brief examined the effects of one such effort in Illinois, which in 2005 passed a law establishing a minimum high school graduation requirement of three years of math and two years of science.

Buddin and Croft found that the introduction of more rigorous graduation requirements had little effect on student course taking, achievement or college enrollment. It’s not enough to require certain courses, the authors noted, as students must be adequately prepared in order to be successful in the more advanced classes.

“Course requirements alone may not be sufficient mechanism for change. Exposing students to advanced material is an important first step, but we must recognize that better preparation, better instruction, better student commitment, better parent support, and a host of other factors are needed for students to master these advanced skills,” the authors concluded.

Here at Mass Insight, we wholeheartedly agree. We’ve had great success over the last six years working with more than 70 partner high schools across Massachusetts to increase student participation in and performance on Advanced Placement STEM courses. In that time, both student participation and student performance has more than doubled. The success of the program has led to its expansion beyond state lines to the Jefferson Parish Public School System in Louisiana.

Yet we didn’t achieve those results by opening the doors to AP courses for more students and then just letting them sink or swim. We supplement their classroom experience with additional learning time in our Saturday Study Sessions, and we provide teachers with rigorous professional development opportunities to improve the quality of their instruction.

We also recognize that to really increase the number of students prepared for AP courses in high school, we have to start earlier than high school – and that’s we also focus on teacher training at the middle school level. Increasing the instructional quality and academic rigor students are receiving in middle school will set those students up to be successful in advanced courses in high school.

Buddin and Croft’s findings really shouldn’t take anyone by surprise: if there’s one thing we know to be true in education, it’s that there are no silver bullets. Raising the expectations bar is an excellent first step – but that has to be paired with student support and teacher training to ensure that all students have a shot at meeting that bar.