Evanston Township High School District 202, Evanston, Illinois
About the Program
Team Access and Success in Advanced Placement, or teamASAP, is a comprehensive support for Advanced Placement (AP) students. Limited access to AP courses for students of color was a driver in developing this program. An analysis of AP enrollment and test scores revealed that, while the percentage of successful AP students was high, participation and diversity in AP courses was low. This was problematic given district demographics: 30 percent African American, 16 percent Latino, and 43 percent white. This analysis allowed the district to restructure ninth grade, increase communication around AP, and provide students with support once in AP courses. Ninth-grade English, history, and biology courses were aligned to AP expectations, and in doing so re-envisioned ninth grade as a spring- board to advanced course work. Along with increased rigor came the need to provide appropriate academic and emotional supports. teamASAP was created by AP students to empower all students with the tools and belief that they can successfully navigate the most challenging course work. With more than 250 members from diverse backgrounds, teamASAP’s mission is to support fellow students to move into and through AP courses. Students meet bi-weekly to discuss successes and challenges. Members also tutor AP students. In addition, it runs a series of events focused on increasing student awareness, access, and success. These events parallel the process of learning about, enrolling in, and being successful in AP courses.
Access to and success in AP has grown significantly in a short time. In 2014, the district had more scores of 3+ on AP exams (1,480) than on total exams in 2010 (1,384). In 2011, 29 percent of black and 28 percent of Latino juniors and seniors were enrolled in AP. In 2014, 38 percent of black and 51 percent of Latino juniors and seniors were enrolled in AP. In 2011, 65 percent of all district students had taking at least one AP course prior to graduation. Last spring, 73 percent of all students had done the same. The percent of scores of 3 or higher rose, moving from 65 percent in 2011 to 71 percent in 2014.
The Board's Involvement
The school board made three key policy decisions that drove the creation of teamASAP. First, it adopted an Equity and Excellence statement to guide the district’s work: “Embracing its diversity, Evanston Township High School dedicates itself to educating all students to their fullest potential.” Second, the board voted unanimously to restructure ninth grade so that more students could have access to and be successful in AP and honors level courses as they progress through high school. Third, the board adopted AP enrollment and success on AP exams as measurements for one the district’s goals. By articulating beliefs, taking action, and establishing clear measures of success, the board provided the context and the need for teamASAP.