SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

April 12, 2013

Column: AP initiative will expand to middle school students

(Continued)

To improve student achievement in a dramatic fashion, it’s important to pull on multiple levers simultaneously. No single initiative or program, operating in isolation, can be expected to achieve the results that the Salem community wants and the students deserve. Professional development is important, yet when it is supported by a broader array of initiatives, the benefits are multiplied.

Salem is pulling multiple levers at once — quarterly assessments to inform practice, alignment of curriculum through common maps and exploration of extended learning time, to name a few.

The expansion of pre-AP will measure the effectiveness of those levers against the ultimate goal: preparing students for college and career success.

Every hour of the day is valuable. How students and teachers spend their learning time should align with improving performance.

Getting students to high school graduation is no longer sufficient. We must also begin tracking whether our efforts have a continued effect after graduation and into college. Less than 60 percent of students enrolled full time in a public, four-year college or university in Massachusetts graduate within six years, and for Hispanic or African-American students, the rates are even lower — 40.7 percent and 43.4 percent, respectively.

Salem schools have made progress toward achieving the goals outlined in the improvement plan. We can be optimistic about the future, yet there is still room for improvement. Early data indicate that students who have participated in Mass Insight’s AP program are more likely to matriculate to and persist at college than the state and national averages.

We are excited to be working with the Salem community in opening the door wider for more of Salem’s students to enter college and the workforce better prepared to compete in a global economy.

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Sarah Morrill is an engagement manager for Mass Insight Education and Research Inc., a Boston-based nonprofit aimed at providing strategies to transform public schools into high-performance organizations.

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