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Schools to bring greater diversity to Advanced Placement courses

By JASON MORROW jmorrow@paducahsun.com

Paducah Public Schools will partner with Advance Kentucky and Equal Opportunity Schools to bring more diversity to Paducah Tilghman High School's Advance Placement courses.

Assistant Superintendent Will Black gave a presentation at the Paducah Board of Education meeting Monday about the initiative called Lead Higher.

"We're interested in getting more diversity in the AP class rosters, both in terms of race as well as income so that we're really serving all kids in a more effective way," Black said. "These partnerships help us in terms of getting to the next step on that goal."

Black said both partnerships align with Paducah Public Schools' vision.

Equal Opportunity Schools will focus on ways to identify and recruit minority and low-income students who are likely to succeed in AP classes. Starting with middle school, students could be identified as early as sixth grade.

"We're hoping to improve our processes in terms of identifying, recruiting and supporting those groups of students," Black said.

Advance Kentucky focuses on professional development for teachers with the same goal of reaching more students and making AP classes more accessible.

"It involves a lot of coaching and ongoing support as we know is really important whenever you have a new initiative," he said.

Lead Higher will roll out for the 2017-18 school year. The professional development portion of the initiative won't focus on just high school teachers.

"Part of the goal here is not only to develop high school AP teachers in terms of their professional development, but also provide professional development for pre-AP courses at the middle school level," he said. "It's necessary to begin that process as early as possible so we can enable the largest group of students to have access to the rigor of Tilghman's AP program."

The initiative is expected to boost the number of AP students in the coming years, particularly incoming freshmen.

"We know there are students out there who can handle the rigor of an Advance Placement course and who, with the right invitation, the right support, would do well in those courses," Black said.

Superintendent Donald Shively said Lead Higher will help students now and in the future.

"We know the correlational data shows that if you take an AP class, your success in college is tremendously higher relative to those who don't take AP classes," Shively said.

According to Shively, the initiative is another way to further the district's goal of "knowing each and every student by name and need. For 20-plus years we've had an AP program that is recognized across the state of Kentucky. As a district we're focused on continuous improvement."

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