Identification of AP Students

This is the second in a series of postings to address the results of a session held at the AP annual conference on Expanding Access to Advanced Placement.  Last night’s post had to do with strategies for raising AWARENESS of your AP program.  Tonight’s post will discuss IDENTIFICATION OF AP STUDENTS.  Since I didn’t participate in this group and only have their notes, some of the bullets might be a little sketchy.  I am including everything they have listed in the hope that it might set off light bulbs for some of you in the reading audience. 


  • Remove barriers to enrollment.  While completion of prerequisite coursework is certainly necessary, does there really have to be a minimum grade or test score requirement to enroll in an AP class?  If students are arriving unprepared, deficiencies in the previous class curriculum or instruction should be addressed. 


  • Communication between high school/middle school using student assessment data to identify potential AP students.


  • AP Potential.  This is a free web-based tool from the College Board that uses PSAT data to predict which students have demonstrated skills necessary to succeed in various AP classes.  The program even includes a letter that can be personalized and adapted to send home to parents alerting them to the possibility of their child succeeding in AP classes.


  • Instructional planning based on PSAT scores.  Again using AP Potential, counselors can help students choose AP classes during the registration process that best match their skills and interests.


  • All students who meet a particular benchmark on a state assessment (such as commended scores) are automatically enrolled in preAP classes.  Parents must actively opt-out for their students to choose a less rigorous class. 


  • Use cognitive abilities test data in addition to PSAT or state assessments.


  • Review all freshmen at the end of the year to identify students for more challenging coursework.  Any student in the top half of their class, for example, should be encouraged to try one preAP or AP class in an area of particular strength or interest.


  • Present challenging coursework as an “honor” to parents.  Some parents only see the downside of challenging coursework in terms of greater workload or possibly lower grades.  Make sure they understand all of the advantages as well.


  • Break mindset of “traditional AP student.”  The gang wannabe in back of the school working on his graffiti tags might be a perfect candidate for AP studio art.  The English language learner (ELL) might knock the top off of the AP Spanish language exam.  There are so many AP opportunities for diverse students.  We need to move beyond the stereotype of the nerd with taped glasses, highwater pants and a pocket protector. 


  • Adjust teaching of AP to adapt curriculum for ELL students.


  • Increase support for ELL students.


  • Differentiate instruction in preAP and AP courses to encourage non-traditional or underrepresented learners to participate.  In a school with a large Hispanic population, works of literature from Hispanic authors could be included in an AP Literature course.


  • Make sure you have teacher buy-in!  It doesn’t make sense to pull more students into AP classes until you are sure that the teachers want to help them to succeed there. 


Please post a comment on any of the above or sharing your favorite strategy for IDENTIFICATION OF AP STUDENTS.  Tomorrow night’s topic will be TEACHER TRAINING. 

 Note:  Several readers have asked if there is a way to subscribe to my blog.  If you look around, I tried to add a widget to allow you to do so.  I hope it works!


One Response to “Identification of AP Students”

  1. Cliff Cockerham Says:

    I was in DC July 2010, but I never found your “basement session.” That said, I thank the Lord for your blog.
    Your notes, thus far, have given me more useful information than all the sessions I attended “put together.” This is not to denigrate the presentations I enjoyed in DC. I certainly learned much. However, I am nearly speechless as I move through your blog. It is cogent and specific to the daily challenges I face. I anticipate it will provide myself and colleagues at my school MANY hours of invaluable discussion material as we struggle to move forward.
    I have never left a blog comment before, so if history is a valid predictor, you may not hear from me again. But know I am “out there” pondering and discussing every word you post! Thank you so much. Keep the faith and keep blogging. – Cliff

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