Student Support Mechanisms for AP Classes


This is the fourth of a five part series of posts I am writing to summarize group discussions that took place at a session on expanding access to AP at the AP Annual Conference.  So far, my other posts have discussed Raising Awareness, Identification of Students,  and Teacher Training.  The topic for tonight is STUDENT SUPPORT.  As I pointed out in my previous post, it doesn’t make sense to pull kids into AP classes unless we are ready to prepare them appropriately and to provide them with the type of academic support that will help them succeed there.  Below you will find a list of the ideas that the group in the session came up with.

  • Teachers must explicitly teach study skills that they might have taken for granted in the past.  Especially at the beginning of the year, teachers might teach brief lessons on effective note-taking for their subject or how to get as much as possible from the textbook.  Many students need instruction in how to prepare for tests. 


  • Summer “boot camps” for students new to AP  or PreAP classes to provide them with necessary skills, content knowledge or habits of mind.


  • After school tutoring or workshops.  Extra academic support might be provided by teachers or peer tutors who are succeeding in the class.


  • Provide an AP study support room.  This might be just a location where AP students can meet to collaborate on assignments or edit each other’s essays.  One school in Tennessee has a “Calculus Hospital” available to help those who are ailing in that class.


  • As a senior project, seniors might mentor lower classmen who are taking AP classes that the seniors have already completed.


  • College students from nearby universities might be interested in working with AP students as a community service or to provide pre-service training to future teachers.


  • Many districts offer Saturday prep sessions led by experienced and successful AP teachers.  Students might rotate between three or four sessions being conducted by different teachers.  If a district lacks its own experienced AP teachers, they can usually find someone from a neighboring district. 


  • Provide students with on-line support.  My students are great at finding on-line videos that reinforce lessons we have done in class.  You might be able to provide students with a reference guide to quality on-line support.  The notes from this group also included “Hippocampus or University of Texas support (website).” 


  • One district has an AP Parent Booster Club that helps to raise funds to cover exam fees and provides breakfast and good cheer on the day of the AP exam. 


  • Speaking of exam fees, NOW is the time to begin talking to students about paying for the AP exam.  Since school is beginning, all students have been given a form for the free/reduced lunch program.  Although many seniors choose to eat off campus, they need to sign up for the lunch program in our state to receive fee waivers for SAT, ACT, college admission fees, AP exams, etc.  We have posters up everywhere reminding the kids that free/reduced lunch is the key to saving their family hundreds of dollars this year in college-related expenses. 


It’s late and getting up early for school is doing me in this week.  My last post in this series won’t come out until Monday.  The topic will be INCENTIVES.  In the meantime, I hope that this week’s posts have given you plenty to think about.  I do hope that you will give me some comments.  I know there are a lot of other ideas about how to provide students with additional academic support.  Please take a moment to share you favorite ideas with the AP community.  Like our students, we get stronger as we learn from one another.  Thanks again for reading!


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