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Initiative to encourage AP recognized by White House
Initiative to encourage AP recognized by White House
Posted on 09/28/2016
Logos of Lead Higher support organizationsUtica Community Schools is continuing its efforts to increase the number of students in Advanced Placement (AP) courses after recently being named a member of the national Lead Higher Initiative.

The district is among 117 districts selected for the Lead Higher Initiative, a national effort aimed at closing achievement gaps among student groups by matching participation in rigorous college-level programs to a district’s student population.

UCS and other participating districts were recently honored at a national event on September 21 for being among the first in the nation to participate in the initiative.

The districts were recognized by White House Cabinet Secretary and My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce Chair Broderick Johnson at a special event, sponsored by Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) and the Jack Cooke Foundation.

"We applaud the tremendous progress Equal Opportunity Schools and all its partners have made to ignite the potential of thousands more traditionally underrepresented students across the country,” Johnson said.

As a member of Lead Higher, Utica Community Schools is receiving two years of technical assistance from EOS. The UCS Board of Education recently adopted a policy to ensure excellence, equity and access among all students in district programs.

EOS will support UCS by providing data that measures demographic participation in college-level courses, coordinate a strategy for addressing gaps between the programs and the district’s overall student profile, and implementing changes immediately.

The Lead Higher initiative builds on the district’s success to have more students participating in rigorous courses.  UCS students recently set new standards in AP participation and achievement in 2016 with 2,160 students taking 3,290 exams. The district now offers 29 AP courses.

Lead Higher builds on these efforts by ensuring that student participation is more representative of the ethnic/racial and economic diversity in the district’s four comprehensive high schools: Eisenhower, Henry Ford II, Stevenson and Utica.  

“The resources provided through Lead Higher will complement our focused efforts on having more UCS students take and pass AP courses, particularly students who are underrepresented in the classes,” superintendent Dr. Christine Johns said. “Rigorous coursework provides our students more opportunities when it comes to realizing their college and career aspirations.”  

Lead Higher is spearheaded by the non-profit EOS, alongside International Baccalaureate and the College Board, and in support of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, and with involvement from US Department of Education. Lead Higher’s chief funding support comes from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and is further supported by Tableau and Google.   

Nationally, Lead Higher and its school partners will transition 100,000 traditionally underrepresented students into successful AP or IB experiences over the next three years.

“By building on their best academic programs and the systems already in place, selected schools will implement what are among the highest impact strategies for boosting college readiness while narrowing the achievement gap,” said EOS founder & CEO, Reid Saaris.

Substantial research indicates students receive a number of benefits and dramatically boost their post-secondary chances of completing college if successful in just one AP or IB course in high school.

Out of several hundred schools applying for participation, Utica Community Schools is among 117 selected to participate in Lead Higher this year.