We Are A Team
We Are A TeamJeffrey Allan Ellis-Lee, Director of Advanced Placement American Studies, Maxine Greene High School
During the 2016 Advanced Placement open house at Maxine Greene High School, 50 prospective students and their parents were able to ask any number of questions about the program. Just three years earlier, the nascent program was almost begging students to even consider taking advanced coursework. It started out timidly but gained enthusiasm as our school built on solid gains and a marked change in Greene’s climate. Now, in a school of only 435 students, we offer six courses that allow students to connect with others who share their hopes for the future. In addition, they've gained new insight about the commitment and resilience it takes to succeed in AP courses. After all, we're a team.
Not too long ago, our high school, located in Midtown Manhattan, struggled to create a college preparatory climate. The school was designed to help students who had consistently struggled in school succeed; as a result, AP courses were not on anyone’s radar. Today, Advanced Placement enrollment at Maxine Greene High School has risen dramatically. But even more importantly, the buzz in the hallways is not only about Regents passing rates, but also about challenging each other to take AP courses. This has added a new richness to these students’ high school experience.
Even though students’ scores have not risen as dramatically, this change in culture is an extremely powerful force. College readiness research provides a compelling argument for expanding AP enrollment opportunities for all students. For example, research shows that students achieving an AP exam score of 2 (which means "possibly qualified" and is not high enough to earn college credit) are likely to have better college performance and higher four-year college graduation rates than students who did not take an AP course (Hargrove, Godin, & Dodd, 2007). In all of our AP courses, we create a family atmosphere and have regular class meetings to support each other. Students involved with the AP program also share their AP experiences with faculty as part of regular class meetings.
One former student, German, a junior at American University, sees the culture change as a perfect foundation for trust. AP not only helps the students, but teachers as well, because they are challenged to be even better teachers.
Maria, a sophomore at Buffalo State University, describes how the culture supported her: "After having almost convinced myself to quit one of my AP classes due to mental exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy, I found myself supported and understood by my friends in the class and decided to follow through with what I had signed up for."
With help from the collegial atmosphere created in the classrooms the program prepares, supports and empowers students for the successful completion of advanced placement courses, leading to increased opportunity in the future. Success in our school is shared success which pulls everyone up. After all we are a team.