Portola High One of 100 Nationwide
Portola Junior Senior High School is one of 100 schools across the nation chosen to implement the Pre-AP (Advanced Placement) Program, in its second year of operation. Designed by the College Board, a national non-profit connecting students to college success and opportunity, the Pre-AP Program brings rigorous course content to 9th graders, preparing them for college-level work such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes. PJSHS administrators submitted an application to the College Board to be considered for the very competitive program, and school principal Sara Sheridan says they are delighted to be part of the select group tapped for participation in the initiative.
Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, all 9th graders at PJSHS will take Pre-AP Biology, and 9th and 10th graders will take Pre-AP English, about 95 students in total. Teachers Sara Murphy (English) and Brandi Murray (Biology) are supported with workshops, lesson plan frameworks, and ongoing feedback.
“The Pre-AP curriculum is just exceptional,” says Principal Sheridan. “Our teachers are really excited by the instructional resources and challenging coursework.” The classes emphasize key literacy, quantitative, and analysis skills across all disciplines, reinforced by multiple classroom experiences. For example, in the Pre-AP Biology course, students might write an article describing the steps of an experiment, use math to understand, record, and interpret the experimental data, and go beyond just labeling diagrams to actually making a working 3-D model of a biological process.
Open access to all students, a requirement of the program, means that Pre-AP courses and their high-quality instruction and assessments will serve all students. “Being able to offer this level of curriculum at our small, rural school is such an amazing opportunity,” says Principal Sheridan. “Pre-AP is going to open doors for all of our students, regardless of what direction they go after graduation.”