At Uncommon Schools, we are deeply committed to supporting our students to get to and through college, which includes providing a college-ready academic course trajectory with preparation that allows all students to access Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Research indicates that students who take at least one AP course perform better in college than those who don’t and, in turn, are more likely to stay in college and graduate. We also know that there is serious inequity in access to AP courses.
While they are readily available at most wealthy, suburban high schools, that is not the case at many schools in low income communities. For these reasons, we continue to place greater emphasis on not just access to AP courses, but also success within those courses. We are proud that in the Class of 2020 across Uncommon high schools, 96% of students took at least one AP exam with 60% of students passing at least one exam, if not more.
In the Class of 2020, the average Uncommon Schools student passed more than two AP exams with 25% passing four or more AP exams. For reference, nationally, only 38.3% of students take at least one AP test before graduating, and the numbers are even lower for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.
Introducing: The High School Curriculum Hub
Since we know that many students do not have the same access to AP courses, we are particularly excited to announce our first ever open source curriculum platform, the High School Curriculum Hub.
With the Curriculum Hub, teachers and administrators can access complete curricula for six AP-aligned courses, including unit plans, assessments, and daily lesson materials – everything you need to teach the course! All of the materials are created by our content experts and are easily adaptable to meet the needs of your teachers and students. The High School Curriculum Hub can support all schools in their efforts to close the gap in access to AP for all of their students.
While AP exams can help to define the breadth, depth, and rigor of a course, the pathway to teach can tend to be less clear. Available external curricular resources vary in quality and AP teachers must manage both deep content expertise and the pedagogy to develop student proficiency in key content, skills, and practices. This has the potential to leave the teaching, and therefore achievement, to chance.
With this in mind, we strive to design our curriculum to ensure a college-ready bar for all of our classrooms and to provide the support for teachers no matter their experience. Unit and daily lesson plans provide a foundational roadmap from start to finish for teachers to work from, including recommended teaching techniques, examples, hooks, review opportunities, priority data to monitor, and other key details that teachers can choose to leverage or modify. This can enable the newest teacher to focus on intellectually preparing and practicing teaching as well as the most seasoned teacher to flexibly adapt and innovate with a solid resource in hand.
Courses in our High School Curriculum Hub:
- AP Biology
- AP Chemistry
- AP Computer Science A
- AP Research
- AP Seminar
- Pre-AP Calculus
As it is important we provide all of our classrooms the resources to ensure quality instruction, we make curriculum promptly accessible while, at the same time, continually striving to improve and learn from our teachers and students. The curriculum currently available is evolving and we commit to sharing our learnings by updating the resources over time. Additionally, we hope to expand our offerings to other disciplines.
We chose to focus on open sourcing a few of our STEM courses as it provided an invaluable opportunity for us to address some of our key areas of growth, specifically our AP participation and pass rates for STEM. We know that better preparing our students for and providing meaningful experiences in advanced level coursework in STEM not only will further develop our students to be STEM-informed citizens, but will also open up a multitude of options and opportunities to continue study in college and pursue careers in an exponentially flourishing field.
We are excited to take this step in open source sharing curriculum resources in the effort to support all students and, as mentioned, we remain dedicated to continually learning what we can do to improve. If you have any feedback on the lesson materials or the site itself, please let us know via the “Contact Us” banner at the top of the page! We look forward to seeing what you and your students accomplish with the materials on the Curriculum Hub!