beginning of content:

Building Your AP Program

Assess strengths and weakness to prepare for the future

Building an effective AP program varies by school and depends on each school's unique culture, resources, and needs. See below for information on particular areas where you might need help.

Do you use AP score data effectively?

Analyzing AP score data can help administrators understand their students' performance on the AP Exams and chart overall progress toward school and district goals. For more information about AP scores, visit Using AP Data.

How do you support your AP teachers?

All teachers can benefit from participating in professional development opportunities where they can obtain valuable course-specific information and learn more about pedagogy. Workshops also serve as vital, motivating, collegial environments in which teachers can interact with experienced members of the AP community. Read more about how you can ensure that your teachers are prepared to lead AP courses.

Other strategies to support AP teachers include:

  • Set clear and achievable goals for student performance.
  • Keep teachers updated with the latest information on AP.
  • Have veteran AP teachers mentor prospective AP teachers.
  • Rotate AP teaching assignments.
  • Recognize teachers' accomplishments in the school and the outside community.
  • Encourage teachers to network with other content area teachers and teachers from other schools.
  • Create and support vertical teams.

A mentoring program success story: Adams-Friendship Area Schools

 "We are a small, rural school district with only 18 percent of the community having direct personal experience with higher education. Through our Beginning Teacher Program and by linking with experienced teachers, I have targeted new teachers to bring onboard as AP instructors. Each has been directly mentored by an experienced AP teacher and we meet as a group on a regular basis to provide support for each other. As a result of the open discourse and after reviewing the students' free-response booklets that we purchase, we have made significant changes in the way AP is delivered. For example, our AP U.S. History course is paired with an English course for those same students to enhance writing skills, vocabulary, organizational skills, etc."

Sandra Swisher-Pheiffer
Gifted/Talented Coordinator
Adams-Friendship Area Schools
Friendship, WI

How do you encourage your students to participate in AP?

If less than 90 percent of the students enrolled in your AP courses are choosing not to take the end-of-course AP Exam, visit Motivating Students to see what other schools do to encourage students to sit for the exam.

Below are additional strategies for supporting AP students:

  • Implement summer programs to set academic foundations and ease the transition to AP.
  • Set up resource centers to provide before- and after-school tutoring.
  • Recognize the accomplishments of AP students to help raise academic expectations and standards, improve morale, attract new students to AP, and publicize the school and the program to the community at large.
  • Create or maintain your school's college-going culture by partnering with local colleges and universities, bringing alumni and admissions officers to talk to students, and organizing college tours.

An exam review session success story: Wake County Public School System

"In preparing students to take the AP Exams this spring, we organized countywide review sessions for 14 different courses. Math and second languages held sessions from 8 to 10 a.m., English and science held sessions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and social studies held sessions from 2 to 4 p.m. The two-hour sessions were held on two consecutive Saturdays prior to the AP Exam weeks and were conducted by experienced AP teachers and AP Exam Readers. Over 500 students, representing 15 of 16 comprehensive high schools, participated. In each session, students received review packets that contained an outline of course topics and sample test items. Each session was content specific and students experienced strategies for completing the multiple-choice section of the exam, organizing writing activities, and completing the free-response sections. The session evaluations revealed that the students felt their time was well spent and left better prepared to take the AP Exam. Students also appreciated hearing a variety of perspectives. Teachers expressed their satisfaction with the organization and process of the review sessions and requested that the district continue to provide this opportunity for our students."

Athena Kellogg
Senior Administrator, Secondary Mathematics
Wake County Public School System
Raleigh, NC

Are you supporting your AP Coordinator?

Your school's AP Coordinator is responsible for ordering AP Exams, receiving and checking shipments, organizing testing, finding and training proctors, collecting fees, returning exams for scoring, and distributing AP Exam results. For many schools, these responsibilities are on top of their non-AP work. AP Coordinators need support from their school leadership to handle the challenges of coordinating their schools' AP programs. Administrators can help AP Coordinators in a variety of ways, including:

  • Hiring additional staff to assist in the management of the AP Exam administration
  • Funding travel to and from AP Coordinator workshops, the AP Annual Conference, or other professional development activities for school counselors or testing coordinators
  • Providing an honorarium for work the AP Coordinator completes outside of school hours during the AP Exam administration
  • Talking to AP Coordinators to find out what kind of support they most need
  • Being aware of the work involved with administering AP Exams. Visit Testing for details.