To the editor:
Last Friday, Salem High was celebrating. In an auditorium packed with more than 260 students and faculty, the guests of honor were the audience members themselves. As Salem continues its turnaround efforts, a particularly bright spot is Salem High’s Advanced Placement (AP) program, which is seeing major success. Enrollment has nearly tripled in five years, and qualifying scores have more than doubled. This means more SHS graduates than ever enter college having experienced at least one college-level course.
Beyond MCAS, the commonwealth’s assessment system also looks at how districts prepare students for college. AP is one of the most widely accepted measures of college readiness. Since 2010, Mass Insight Education has been working closely with teachers and students at Salem High School to expand both enrollment and successful completion in AP courses. Research conducted by Mass Insight shows that students who participated in the program have greater college acceptance rates and greater persistence rates in college, regardless of whether they received a qualifying score. Simply participating in an AP class raises a student’s chance of succeeding in college.
This school year, nearly 24 percent of the entire student body is enrolled in one or more AP classes. These students, reflective of the diversity of the entire student population, are gaining more confidence, challenging themselves to new levels and showing academic leadership. This includes taking time on select Saturdays throughout the year to join with other students from the North Shore and attend study sessions with some of the best instructors in the commonwealth. Their teachers are showing leadership, as well, by spending more time learning. They attended sessions over the summer to hone their AP instructional skills and will also give up select Saturdays to meet with teaching peers from across the region. They show leadership in the district by participating on teams designed to help identify what all students need to be able to show and do in order to compete at a college level.
In a time of high-stakes testing and significant turnaround challenges, it was inspirational to see such growth in participation and such diversity in the auditorium last Friday. If luck can be defined as the point at which opportunity meets preparation, then Salem High will continue to have an increasing number of “lucky” high school graduates.
Congratulations, Salem High!
Principal, Salem High School and SHS ‘90
State representative and SHS ’83