A student completes an assignment at an IDEA Public School. Credit: Courtesy / IDEA Public Schools

Sponsored by:

You may have read in a recent article in the Rivard Report, that five IDEA Public Schools high schools were recently named among the top 10 most challenging high schools in America by The Washington Post. Additionally, IDEA schools were ranked among the best high schools in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report.

These national rankings come as a great honor, because of the accolade’s metrics – student achievement, particularly as it relates to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

IDEA Public Schools, a public charter network with schools in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, and Austin understands the importance of providing students with access to AP courses and college-level classes, which is why the network developed its Advanced Placement (AP) For All Program.

Through this program, IDEA Public Schools ensures all students are given the opportunity to take AP courses. IDEA believes that if every student is going to succeed in college, then every student should engage with college preparatory coursework. In the AP for All model, every student is required to take at least 11 AP courses as part of their core curriculum in high school. In order to succeed in these courses, students begin taking pre-AP courses in 6th grade and begin the AP sequence in 9th grade.

What are AP Classes? Earn College Credits, Reduce the Cost of College

AP classes are rigorous, college-level classes taken in high school. AP courses provide a student the opportunity to earn college credit if they receive a passing score (3, 4, or 5) on an AP end-of-course exam. These credits can potentially save students and their families thousands of dollars in college tuition, fees, and textbook costs and help more students and families afford a college education.

Stand Out in College Admissions

AP courses also offer college admissions officers a consistent measure of course rigor across high schools, districts, states, and countries – because all AP teachers, no matter where they’re teaching, have to teach a curriculum that meets college standards. When admissions officers see “AP” on a student’s transcript, they have a good understanding of what a student experienced in a particular class and how well the course prepared the student for the rigor of college.

IDEA’s Advanced Placement For All Program: Skip Introductory Classes

One important way to increase college readiness across the board is to provide more students the opportunity to take challenging courses. AP credits also allow students to place out of introductory classes in college. With the additional time on their schedules, students can graduate earlier, earn a minor or second major, or pursue other topics of interest.

Unfortunately, while AP courses are offered at many high schools throughout the country, they are not always provided for every student.  At IDEA, student progress in the AP For All program is monitored by a team of teachers, counselors, and interventionists to ensure that all students are receiving the tools they need to be successful in these challenging, high-level courses.

As IDEA has expanded AP access to more students, AP passing rates have increased across the network. In 2015, the percentage of IDEA students who passed AP exams with a score of three or higher increased by 145%, and the total number of AP Scholars at IDEA increased by 73%. This continued improvement bodes well for kids and families in San Antonio looking for a high-quality education focused on preparing students for college.

IDEA Student & Parent Testimony

“Ms. Even, my 9th grade AP human geography teacher, constantly brought our viewpoints, our opinions, and our lives to the forefront of the lesson,” said Fatima Leal, a current 10th grader at IDEA Brownsville. “Every day I grew more confident in my ability to read, write, and express myself on issues of politics, race, and societies across the world. I felt more confident and inspired in Ms. Even’s class as the year went on. I was beginning to see the world differently as an agent of change. This passion for Ms. Even’s class led me to pass my human geography AP test. Not only do I write better, read better, understand the world and all of its complexities better, but now I have college credit under my belt.  I look forward to taking and passing more Advanced Placement classes in my time at IDEA and starting my college career being able to take classes immediately toward my major.”

Fatima’s father, Osvaldo Leal, is also outspoken in his gratitude for IDEA’s AP teachers and AP For All program. “I’ve always believed that a great teacher shows not where to fly, but how,” he said. “Ms. Even has done just that for my daughter.

“Ms. Even, you have the capacity and the quality to inspire, and that is a remarkably special gift,” he told Fatima’s teacher. “Thank you for guiding my daughter. Thank you for being her role model.”

Visit www.ideapublicschools.org to learn more about AP For All and how IDEA is preparing its students for success on the road to and through college.

Avatar photo

IDEA Public Schools

Since 2000, IDEA Public Schools has grown from a small school with 150 students to the fastest-growing network of tuition-free, Pre-K-12 public charter schools in the United States.