O’Bryan discussed the school’s Advanced Placement Program at this week’s school board meeting, while Ringstaff touched on the International Center for Learning Excellence program.
“We’re looking at a way to change education,” said Ringstaff, as he and O’Bryan emphasized the need for advanced courses in high school to prepare students for college. They asked the school board to agree to pay for AP tests, taking a financial challenge off the shoulders of the students.
Ringstaff said in an upward A-B-C-D concept, education in America is stuck on A.
He said the ICLE program goes toward knowledge and application in the classroom. “It is a more revelant framework to work with,” he said.
O’Bryan said during her years in school, AP courses were optional. She wants to raise the bar. “Based on the College Board, students today are looking at college in the seventh and eighth grades,” she said. “Therefore, high school students should be taking advantage of college-level courses.”
O’Bryan said Cleveland High now offers nine AP courses, although many more courses are available. The high school has 170 students participating. She would like to see that number of courses and participants increase. Among the school’s AP courses are U.S. history, biology, calculus and chemistry.
“We’re failing miserably in college,” the CHS principal added. “Students get to college and they’re not ready.”
The two educators said colleges today are placing a priority on AP courses.
O’Bryan said there are some critical components in making the AP Program a success. These components include training, for teachers and students; educating parents and students about the program, equal access for all students; pre-AP alignment; recruitment of nontraditional students; dual enrollment pairings; and flexible scheduling.
“I’m a big believer of AP, and we know that colleges look at AP students (more seriously),” said the director of schools. “I believe we need to rachet it (education) up to the next level.”
Ringstaff said if the board agrees to pay for the students’ AP tests, it will take away a variable. “Thus far, we’ve been able to fit what the teachers have requested on scheduling,” he said.
He said with students taking these more challenging tests, teachers will have to change what they’re teaching. “The give-and-take days are over,” he said, referring to the traditional give-and-take between the teacher and student. “We have to raise the game,” he added.
“Teachers have a big challenge, and we (administrators) have a big challenge,” Ringstaff continued. “We’re shortening the standards, and we’re going much deeper into these standards.”
“We need to take a more facilitating approach (to education),” he said. “We have to make sure colleges are preparing students in this manner. There’s going to be a work curve in education over the next few years.”
Ringstaff said teachers are doing well (with the concept), adding administrators and the school board need to make sure teachers are headed in the right direction. “I think you’ll see great things happening in the next four to five years,” he said, in an appeal to the school board to become more involved with this path in education.
“It won’t be a simple, overnight fix,” Ringstaff said as he was closing his presentation. “We’re not in competition with students here in Cleveland, across the state, or nation ... it’s global.”
School board member Dawn Robinson said recent feedback she has received about a local graduate shows “AP classes make the first year at college easier.”
Robinson made a motion, seconded by Dr. Murl Dirksen, that the Cleveland school board pay for AP tests. The motion was approved by the full board.