CEI’s One-of-a-Kind Advanced Placement Summer Institute
Supports Teachers to Help All Students Succeed
The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) delivers the nation’s only College Board-certified AP for All Summer Institute (APSI) focused specifically on providing AP teachers with the tools, strategies, and resources to ensure all students succeed — even those who aren’t top achievers, who are learning English, or who are living in poverty.
The need is great. More than half of U.S. high school students who show potential to succeed in rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) coursework never enroll. Yet, research shows that high school students who take AP classes are far more likely to go to and graduate from college.
The July 2015 APSI drew hundreds of educators from around the nation, along with teachers from 11 different countries including Canada, China, Mexico, and Switzerland.
CEI, in partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), hosted the 2015 APSI at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“College success begins with high school success and an early introduction to the rigorous coursework students will encounter in college. Students who have the advantage of AP classes are more likely to go to college and graduate from college,” said CEI’s Colorado Legacy Schools Director Greg Hessee.
Institute presenters worked with teachers to develop deeper content knowledge in their AP subjects and identify strategies to effectively reach diverse student populations — students who might not otherwise consider enrolling in AP classes.
“I challenge teachers to put students first, to break out of the comfort zone, and change the life of a student.”
—Alejandra Terrazas, 2015 Arvada High School graduate
Students like 2015 Arvada High School graduate Alejandra Terrazas, a successful alumna of the CLS program. She didn’t think colleges or universities were interested in students like her. “My parents were immigrants who chose to move our family to the United States in search of a better life and medical care for my ailing mom,” said Terrazas. “I lived in fear of deportation and everything seemed to be against me. I thought I didn’t have what it took to succeed.”
She now knows otherwise. “If others could take AP classes and succeed, why couldn’t I?” said Terrazas.
She not only succeeded, but excelled and received a 2015 Gates Millennium Scholarship that earned her a full-ride scholarship to a university of her choice. Without the support and encouragement of her teachers, Terrazas said she’s not sure if she would have found success. “I challenge teachers to put students first, to break out of the comfort zone, and change the life of a student.”
The summer institute aimed to help teachers develop AP programs that support the success of all interested students, regardless of race, gender, zip code, or socioeconomic status. “This is a great opportunity for educators, especially for AP teachers in rural, small school districts because it’s relevant instruction they can take back and use in their classrooms this fall,” said Hessee.
Experienced and new teachers from rural and urban school districts chose from 20 sessions in AP content areas ranging from AP chemistry to English.
AP Biology Instructor Cheryl Ann Hollinger taught a class for new teachers. “Some of these teachers will have a really tough year. Some of them are brand new to AP or have one year of experience,” said Hollinger. “I’m going to give them strategies on how to use their time effectively, using various tools, so their kids are engaged and doing the biology and learning, thinking, and acting like scientists, not the teacher just standing up there delivering the material.”
This professional learning opportunity for AP teachers is part of CEI’s Colorado Legacy Schools (CLS) Initiative — a local replication of NMSI’s proven College Readiness Program, which has success in closing achievement gaps and increasing college readiness in participating schools.
CLS works to dramatically increase student enrollment and success rates in AP math, science, and English courses at geographically and demographically diverse schools across the state – especially among underserved students. It also encourages students to pursue majors and careers in the rapidly-growing STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).
CLS provides funding for extensive teacher training, student exam fees, classroom equipment and supplies, awards for those who excel, and extra time on task for students during Saturday study sessions.