Homewood-Flossmoor High School has been selected to participate in the Lead Higher Initiative, making it one of the country’s select high schools preparing economically and racially diverse students for greater academic challenges.
Homewood-Flossmoor is among the 117 new schools selected for participation in the Lead Higher Initiative in the 2016-17 school year.
Administrators and teachers will be working to direct a higher number of H-F students into Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. The national goal is to have 100,000 low-income students and students of color completing AP or IB courses over the next three years.
H-F has been offering AP classes for decades. Today H-F has 25 percent of its student body enrolled in AP courses. It graduated its first IB class in 2015.
H-F offers 22 AP courses that are designed by the College Board. H-F faculty go through a special College Board training program before they can register as AP teachers, according to Nancy Spaniak, H-F director of curriculum, instruction & professional development. H-F offers 13 International Baccalaureate courses for juniors and seniors in the H-F Gifted Academy.
Taking an AP course give students greater challenges and also allows students to sit for College Board exams that can earn them college credit or exempt them from entry level college work, she said.
As a member of the first Lead Higher cohort, Homewood-Flossmoor is receiving match-funded technical assistance from the non-profit organization Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) that supports the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative begun by President Obama. EOS also works with the U.S. Department of Education, International Baccalaureate, an educational foundation, and the College Board.
“EOS is helping us identify and recruit students into AP who, for one reason or another, are not currently taking AP but show AP potential,” Spaniak said. “The EOS surveys the students took, along with their grade point average and standardized test score data, is being used to create student insight cards.”
Under Lead Higher guidelines, H-F will require four teachers to give a student an AP recommendation. Teachers will be looking through sophomore and junior class Lead Higher information cards to make recommendations.
“We will then utilize methods that EOS will help us develop to recruit these students. EOS will also help us develop methods to support both the newly recruited students and the AP teachers,” Spaniak explained.
“While we are just getting started with EOS, we anticipate that this effort will not only have positive, potentially life-altering effects on the students we recruit into AP, but also on our teachers, administrators and the wider school community,” said Superintendent Von Mansfield.