Despite recent news of the budget woes plaguing the school district of Philadelphia, a bright spot has been the success stories coming out of Northeast High School, located in one of the lowest income areas of the city. As part of a rigorous Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate program overhaul that began in the 2010 - 2011 school year, Northeast High School incorporated Shmoop,digital publishers of test prep materials and educational guides, and saw the number of college eligible AP scores (3+) triple in three years.
Northeast High School students were given access Shmoop’s full suite of 30+ AP® test prep products to use as a resource to supplement the instruction they were getting in the classroom. In addition, the teachers and AP coordinators created a myriad of academic and extracurricular programs to motivate students to enroll in AP and IB classes. These programs included Saturday practice sessions, summer programs, awards assemblies, subsidized exam fees, and extra instruction and support in classrooms from staff and faculty members. As a result, Northeast High’s AP results soared. In 2007, before the programs were implemented, the school had no AP scholars and only ~10% had a score of ‘3’ or better. In contrast, after the implementation of Shmoop and the extra programs, Northeast High had 22 AP Scholars and saw more than one out of every three AP-test-taking students (36.1%) score a ‘3’ and above in the 2012 - 2013 school year. The college matriculation rate also jumped to 63% versus 53% in 2010, with 133 students earning college credit on 177 AP exams.
Although Shmoop and the programs helped increase student retention rates and the number of students matriculating into college, the school was hit hard by the Philadelphia School District’s budget cuts.
“We have been sustaining the quality of these programs despite the annual budgets cuts that have occurred in the last four years, but this year, the conditions are worse, much worse than they have ever been,” says a public letter from Northeast High School teachers requesting more AP funding. “This year, we are at the point of ensuring that these programs still exist, not working to improve them.”