State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler calls it “Leveraging the Senior Year.”
Baesler says the effort has two prongs: one, to make sure seniors who decide to go to college are prepared for college, so they don’t have to take remedial courses; and two, to increase the number of students taking dual credit or advanced placement courses. She says students in that latter category are the ones who took a full course load in their freshman, sophomore and junior years.
"But their senior year, as we look at the average number of courses the seniors are taking, it's reduced by almost one full credit," said Baesler. "And those seniors begin to atrophy. And they begin to do what we call the 'senior academic slide.'"
Baesler says there are some seniors who look forward to taking their senior year off, or taking a lighter load.
"That's another part of the issue we will have to address," said Baesler. "We may do that through career counseling, principals and parents, to encourage seniors not to take the year off."
Baesler says there is a definite need for students to have more opportunities.
"And we've heard that througout the state," said Baesler. "Especially in our rural schools and more isolated school districts, that aren't located near a college campus."
The 2015 Legislature appropriated $1.75 million to expand AP class opportunities. Baesler says some of the money will go toward training teachers – as well as reimbursing students for the cost of taking AP exams, providing scholarships and providing extra pay for teachers who take on AP classes.