Changing Middle School Pre-AP to Challenge Students Beyond their Learning Potential

Pulling from the Top: Changing Middle School Pre-AP to Challenge Students Beyond their Learning Potential

Everything in PISD is driven by the PISD Board Core Beliefs and Core Commitments that were ratified in October of 2018. The first Core Belief and Core Commitment lays out PISD’s focus on challenging students beyond their learning potential:

Core Belief

We believe that all children can learn at grade level and should be challenged beyond their learning potential so that the achievement gap starts to narrow.

Commitment

 We will allocate resources to ensure each student attains his/her full learning potential, social, emotional and civic development.

This is possible because the Board lays out its firm belief that all children can learn at grade level. With this, the glass is always more than half full and never half empty. The Board also recognizes that it must work with the superintendent to allocate meaningful resources, so each student can achieve nothing less than the fullest of his/her talents and gifts.

The first PISD Board Core Belief and Core Commitment drives a change in Middle School Pre-AP enrollment criteria to open the doors for students ready and willing to put in the work, effort, and attention necessary to not only succeed in middle school Pre-AP but most importantly succeed in AP courses in high school and university-level study.

In years past, students had to acquire points via a rubric to qualify for Pre-AP courses. The rubric was built less to keep students out and more to ensure they had a track record of succeeding on rigorous measures of learning. These measures were used as indicators that a student allowed into Pre-AP would find success. This practice was prefixed on keeping students on a successful academic track who had already achieved a stable record of success.

Building upon a good past for a stronger future, students who feel they are up to the challenge will be allowed to enroll in Pre-AP classes without a screening rubric. This means PISD wants any and all students who feel they are ready for an academic challenge in math and English language arts at the 7th  grade level to sign up for Pre-AP and any 8th grade student who is ready to take on more challenging content and instruction can sign up for math (Algebra I), science, social studies, Reading, and language arts.

Both middle school campuses will open enroll for Pre-AP for the 2019-20 school year. However, living out not only the Board’s Core Belief but also by acting upon its Core Commitment tied to student achievement dictates a system of support. This system begins after registration. 

During the summer of 2019, PISD will offer students a summer Pre-AP Prep Academy. This academy will focus on math and English language arts content to ensure all students are ready to find success in Pre-AP courses. Furthermore, the summer Pre-AP Prep Academy will offer a focus on study skills, time management, and other aspects of social-emotional learning. Educating the full student requires more than just drill-and-kill; rather, it requires engaging experiences in math, English language arts, science, and social studies coupled with the necessary skills to inspire confidence in any and all students bold enough to take on and succeed in middle school Pre-AP coursework.

Beyond the Pre-AP Prep Academy, students will have wrap-around support during the school year involving communication with parents on a regular basis, Pre-AP events, tutoring, and mentorship. The measure for the success of PISD Pre-AP will not focus solely on student grades; rather, it will focus on grades coupled with how many students signed up for Pre-AP and how many remain at the conclusion of the year. Any program can say it’s rigorous and drive students off. Only the best can raise rigor and “challenge students beyond their learning potential!”