The Legacy Schools Solution
College success must begin with high school success and an early introduction to the rigorous coursework students will encounter in college. For this reason, the Legacy Schools Initiative uses Advanced Placement courses as a platform for increasing college enrollment and graduation rates among Colorado youth.
In particular, Legacy Schools focuses on supporting students in science, math, and English AP courses with the understanding that these courses will most effectively prepare students for college success and encourage them to pursue majors and, ultimately, careers in the rapidly-growing STEM fields.
Studies have shown that students who take AP courses are less likely to need remediation and more likely to graduate from college. A high school student who passes just one AP exam has a 72% chance of graduating from college, compared to a 30% chance without AP. In fact, students who take an AP course but do not receive a passing score on the AP exam are still 24% more likely to graduate from college than their peers who have not engaged in AP coursework.
AP gives students an edge in college and career preparation. Unfortunately, many students either are not offered this opportunity or do not take advantage of it; 70% of Latino and 80% of African American students who show potential to succeed in AP classes do not enroll. If we hope to close the achievement gap, expanding access to and success in AP must be part of the solution.
Legacy Schools Initiative works to change school culture around AP courses, helping schools recruit and support students who might not typically enroll in AP courses. Specific program components include:
- Training for AP and pre-AP teachers—AP success is contingent on excellent and effective teachers who are able to reach every student in their classrooms. AP teachers are offered over 40 hours of training, in addition to instructional support, in their AP subject areas. Pre-AP teachers are offered similar trainings and strategies to challenge their students and prepare them for AP enrollment and success.
- Student and teacher incentives—both students and teachers receive incentives for every qualifying score achieved on an AP math, science, or English exam. These incentives honor the additional effort and dedication required from both student and teacher for the student to master AP coursework.
- Tutoring—students are offered an additional month of instructional time per AP subject through Saturday Study Sessions.
- Instructional support and coaching—Legacy Schools’ content specialists in math, science, and English provide AP teachers with personalized and ongoing instructional support and guidance.
- Updated technology and equipment—schools receive up to $10,000 in annual funding to purchase technology and equipment for their AP classrooms so that they can keep instruction current and relevant.
- Exam fee subsidies—Legacy Schools covers up to half the cost of AP exam fees, reducing the burden to students and their families.
- Culture-shifting strategies—Legacy Schools works with school administrators and counselors to build a school culture that embraces AP participation and success for all students, helping schools to develop open enrollment policies and strategies for recruiting students who show potential for AP success but who may not enroll without encouragement.
Additionally, Legacy Schools’ staff help build “vertical teams” by subject, enhancing communication and coordination between teachers, middle school through AP. These vertical teams work together to prepare students, from middle school on, for AP success.
The Colorado Legacy Foundation believes that increased student achievement for all Colorado students requires effective leaders in every school, effective educators in every classroom, and healthy and engaging environments that ignite a passion for learning in every student.