AP For All initiative rejected by DCPS

Madison Dias

DCPS has disapproved the AP For All initiative, which will no longer go into effect.

The proposal would have required all incoming juniors to enroll in two AP courses: AP English Language and Composition (AP Lang) and AP U.S. History (APUSH). 

Martin sent out an email to the Wilson community about the plan before receiving approval. Instructional Superintendent of Secondary Schools Dr. Drewana Bey informed Martin that she was not on board with this decision. 

Instead of being required to take the two courses, students will remain having the option between taking the on-level or the AP versions. 

 One of Bey’s concerns was requiring students to take APUSH and AP Lang would change the graduation requirement. “She wanted to make sure that all ESL students, special education students, students with 504 plans and disabilities have an equal opportunity to earn their graduation requirements,” Martin said. 

Another concern of Bey’s had to do with the two courses being heavy in reading and writing, which not all students may have an interest in. 

Martin believes that another future proposal, requiring juniors take their choice of one to two AP classes, does not have the same effect as requiring APUSH and AP Lang. “This does not solve for the problem of [segregation] in these two classes.” 

Junior and Minorities in AP (MAP) program leader Shaina Adams is dissatisfied with the outcome. “I don’t want them to just say ‘no’ to one solution and not do anything about the problem. I want something to be done to address the actual issue: inequalities within schools and across the District.” 

In response to the disapproval, Junior and other MAP leader Jean Pierre Roberts is disappointed, but not surprised. “DCPS and higher ups in general are extremely hard to work with sometimes, even when the proposal seems perfect,” Roberts said. 

Though disappointed, MAP will continue to fight for equity in AP classes in the upcoming school years. 

Roberts believes there is no basis for Bey’s concern regarding the courses being graduation requirements. “Students at Wilson are required to take history junior year regardless of if it’s AP or not. Making that year AP for all would just fulfill the regular requirements while allowing students to have access to AP credits and that bonus GPA,” Roberts said. 

Sophomore Kenefere Kamani was “thrown off guard” when the email was sent out about the AP requirements for her class. “It made me very nervous because I know junior year is very important and I want to, of course, be successful in those classes and pass.” 

However, she also recognizes that AP classes are “more challenging,” and she’s unsure if everyone is prepared for the AP rigor yet. “Not everyone is going to want to learn at that pace,” Kamani said. 

On the other hand, with being required to take APUSH and AP Lang, “I [could have] finally challenge[d] myself instead of playing small and choosing the easy route,” Kamani said. 

The attempt to institute AP for All stemmed from both a continuation of Honors for All, and a student email. 

Martin believes that Wilson is finally ready to advance the Honors for All approach. “We’ve had enough discussions about equity and grading,” she said, adding that staff members “have a high enough level of comfort and experience that they can make sure that we continue a very robust AP authentic curriculum with every single 11th grader in the school.”

After the insurrection on January 6, social studies teacher Matthew Burgoyne received an email from a student of color titled “Inequality in AP classes at Wilson.” In the email, the student mentioned facing an issue of “segregated classrooms.” 

Burgoyne has also noticed this concern, “This is a problem of wider societal issues and it has created an unintentional segregated tract system. [This] has been a very clear problem at Wilson. AP classes [contain] predominately white students and on-level classes [contain] predominately non-white students.” From that email, conversations were started.

Martin describes AP for All as a staff driven initiative. “Mr. Burgoyne, Mr. Heckler, and Ms. McLaughlin are the ones who approached me with the idea of continuing Honors for All,” Martin said. 

This initiative’s goal is to create a more equitable learning experience. “It is now [Wilson’s] job to ensure that we create a classroom that is accessible to every student that allows every student to succeed while giving everyone access to the same rigorous curriculum,” Burgoyne said. 

Burgoyne is in strong favor of finding a way to institute the AP for All initiative in the future. “If we are encouraging all of our kids to apply to college, then we need to be providing them opportunities that help with that process,” Burgoyne remarked. 

Burgoyne currently teaches both on-level U.S. and AP U.S. history. “I use the same lessons [for both classes] because I think that every student should have access to a rigorous, culturally responsive, challenging curriculum,” Burgoyne said.

 Though the curriculum for the two classes is different, where there is overlap, Burgoyne uses the same lessons and claims to “see the same level of success in both courses.”  

When conducting a survey from a large number of students, Burgoyne says that they received “overwhelming anecdotal evidence that students were not signing up for AP classes because they did not feel safe in those classes.” 

“We need to do better, our students deserve better, and this is one way to achieve that. It’s a continuation of a policy already in place at Wilson,” Burgoyne said.