Course Access: Improving Student Access to Advanced Coursework

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Every student deserves the opportunity to access the courses she or he needs for success in college and careers. However, too many students, and in particular those from traditionally underserved backgrounds face significant inequities. According to the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Only 50% of U.S. high schools offer calculus and only 63% offer physics.
  • Black and Latino students make up 37% of high school students but only account for 18% of students passing an AP exam.
  • Amongst high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students, one quarter do not offer algebra II, and one-third do not offer chemistry.

A promising solution is course access. Course access provides public school students with expanded course offerings across learning environments from diverse, accountable providers. It is a statewide program through which students can gain equitable access to a variety of courses in a programmatic effort to increase access, quality and equity in public education.

Webinar presenters shared a national perspective on course access programs and policies, along with promising practices and lessons learned on the ground with the Louisiana Supplemental Course Academy and the Rhode Island Advanced Coursework Network. In addition, presenters discussed new opportunities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which allows significant flexibility to states and districts to use federal funds “to improve student access to advanced courses and a well-rounded education.”

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