Relationship between Honors for All and AP enrollment inconclusive

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Relationship between Honors for All and AP enrollment inconclusive

Nate Belman

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Honors for All, an initiative introduced two years ago by Principal Kimberly Martin, will extend to junior year science classes next year. While administration believes Honors for All increases AP participation and reduces the minority gap, data of AP enrollment in the past two years and discussions with counselors have found the correlation to be inconclusive.

Over the past year and a half, the percentage of students in one or more honors or AP course has increased by around 15 percent overall. Black Honors or AP enrollment jumped from 59 percent to 82 percent and Hispanic or Latino enrollment increased from 54 percent to 81 percent.

These statistics fail to tell the broader story, however. Enrollment in AP and honors classes has increased dramatically as a result of the replacement of all on-level classes with honors options, but enrollment in solely AP classes has plateaued.

Since Honors for All was introduced in the 2016-17 school year, the number of Black students who take at least one AP course has dropped slightly from 42 percent to 40 percent and Hispanic or Latino enrollment dropped off similarly from 41 percent to 38 percent. Only non- Black or Hispanic students saw an increase in AP enrollment, from 62 percent to 65 percent.

The data indicates that the minority gap in AP enrollment has widened slightly over the time Honors for All has been in place, and that Honors for All did not cause a significant increase in AP enrollment for sophomores who took it freshman year.

Interestingly, there was a significant jump in AP enrollment between the 2015-2016 school year and the 2016-2017 school year. Black AP enrollment jumped a remarkable 15 percentage points, from 28 percent to 42 percent. Hispanic or Latino AP enrollment increased from 34 percent to 41 percent.

Wilson data coordinator Joseph Bellino attributes this increase to a greater push to increase AP enrollment by administration, led by Martin.

The overall goal of Honors for All is to increase diversity in AP enrollment. “We wanted to standardize the experience that students are getting in ninth and tenth grade to ensure that… every kid will have the chance to take an AP in 10th and 11th grade. It’s their choice now, but at least we know that they’re ready for it,” Martin said.

The data, however, doesn’t mean Honors for All won’t eventually cause an increase in AP enrollment. Junior year is generally the first year that students take a serious number of AP courses because more are offered. The data also did not target specific grade levels. “I suspect Honors for All won’t be in a position to show increased AP enrollment until next year,” said Wilson Data Coordinator Joseph Bellino.

Sophomore counselors, however, who sign students up for classes junior year, did not report a dramatic jump in AP enrollment for the first class to take Honors for All for two consecutive years, though scheduling data has not yet been finalized.

“Every year that we sign up for scheduling next school year’s classes, the same question I’m asked is, ‘How many AP’s are available for me to sign up for,’” said 10th-grade counselor Patrice Maites. Every year, many students enroll in large numbers of AP courses, and although they may not receive all of them, end up taking between one and seven of them their junior and senior years.

For certain students, the Honors for All program may compel them to sign up for higher-level classes. “If we put [students taking lower-level classes] in more honors classes [that] are more rigorous, then they have the opportunity to say, ‘Oh, if I can do this, then I can do AP,” said tenth-grade counselor Deshundria Fortson.

Maites believes that the lack of a jump in AP course enrollment may be beneficial. “[There are] many students who put themselves in multiple AP classes that can’t handle that amount of academic rigor, and when they’re trying to balance their home life, their school life, their social life, and any extracurriculars, many times it weighs on them, and their mental health becomes compromised,” Maites said.