How one tiny high school hacked Advanced Placement classes

November 18, 2016

By Kate Schimel and Leah Todd, The Taos News | November 9, 2016

The Taos News

If you ask Colby Simpson, one of 35 seniors at Paonia High School, how many advanced placement (AP) classes he’s taken, he has to shuffle through a long mental list. He definitely took AP biology, and is taking AP calculus and physics, but did he take AP U.S. history? He thinks for a moment to recall. That’s not a problem his oldest brother, Patrick, now 31, experienced: There were no AP classes at Paonia High when the elder Simpson sibling attended 15 years ago. With only 16 teachers, training faculty to teach nationally certified AP classes, and recruiting enough students to make them worthwhile, seemed unattainable for the tiny Colorado school. That changed in 2011, when the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI), an education advocacy and research organization, launched the Colorado Legacy Schools project. The program funded innovative ways to increase the number and diversity of students taking AP classes.

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