From the Desk of…
Kirsten Aspengren, Senior Director, Bridge the Divide
AP Course Audit
Since 2007, the College Board has entrusted EPIC to manage more than one million Advanced Placement (AP) course syllabi. Each of these syllabi has been processed by EPIC’s secure, online software application, from fast-track authorization to as many as three independent expert reviews. For the AP program, a course syllabus is the evidence of a particular teacher’s intent, as well as the expression of a discipline’s current thinking and best practices.
In its work with the College Board and other clients, EPIC helps education professionals stay organized, productive, and focused on student success. In the same way that today’s students are defined not just by academic outcomes, but also by their engagement and adaptability—by what they can do with what they know—so are teachers being asked to move beyond isolated lesson planning and into networked tools for creating and refining curriculum. In an era of fewer resources and increased expectations, it’s essential to provide teachers with tools that demonstrate evidence—simply, powerfully, and transparently.
EPIC’s work with the College Board creates communities of education professionals, allowing for direct 1:1 interaction with content experts and even College Board staff when targeted professional development around a particular course framework is needed. This supportive, collaborative feedback reduces the frustration and isolation teachers can feel when aligning course content to a set of standards.
Merced Union High School District Strategic Planning
At the beginning of the year, EPIC facilitated a SWOT analysis of Advanced Placement (AP) programs in the Merced Union High School District (MUHSD). SWOT stands for Strengths and Weaknesses (the internal analysis) and Opportunities and Threats (the external/environmental analysis). Participants included faculty from MUHSD’s AP programs, Merced College, and the University of California–Merced. The SWOT analysis process brings together faculties to establish a common understanding of the current status of AP programs in the district and how MUHSD can continue to provide and potentially expand robust AP course offerings. The process involved brainstorming perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and how they can be leveraged, maximized, avoided, or diminished to support the goals of AP programming. This process included examining current AP program data as well as considering input from local institutions of higher education. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop an AP Master Plan, incorporating not only the collective wisdom of the group, but also input from the district and the goals of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).
Texas Advanced Technical Credit Program
Drawing on the strength of facilitated alignment conversations, committees of Texas secondary and postsecondary instructors play integral roles to support the Texas Advanced Technical Credit (ATC) Program. This statewide program allows Texas students the opportunity to earn credit at select colleges for enhanced high school CTE courses, as determined by committee members. More opportunities for articulated credit means a greater number of students can enter technical schools and colleges with credit in-hand to put toward a college certificate or associate’s degree.
International Baccalaureate Educator Network
EPIC is working with the International Baccalaureate organization on an evaluation of its Educator Network, an in-house professional development network in which IB practitioners share best practices. Using the Success Case Method, the project will take EPIC staff to 3–6 different countries to conduct case studies of successful schools. EPIC will dive deep into the research and practitioner literatures on using networks to provide professional development to educators. EPIC’s founder, Dr. Dave Conley, will provide expert consulting to the project.
Santa Ana Unified Creating Incredible Pathways for Students
A recent article in Getting Smart, Santa Ana Unified Creating Incredible Pathways for Students K-12, features Santa Ana Unified School District and includes EPIC’s work with Valley High School over the past three years. The district is providing incredible learning environments for K–12 students, and EPIC has been instrumental in creating change in Valley High School. We have been strategic in supporting Valley in three areas: (1) developing a shared positive language and culture; (2) transitioning Valley to a wall-to-wall academy; and (3) implementing an adolescent literacy development plan focused on universal (schoolwide) strategies that support all students every period, every day.
EPIC Welcomes Three New Board Members
EPIC is pleased to welcome three new board members:
Our newly expanded board includes individuals who have worked in schools and districts and can help us contextualize our work within their own experiences and help us focus our language and stories as we empower educators to embrace a renewed vision of student readiness. We look forward to collaborating with these outstanding individuals in the coming years to incorporate their expertise into our work with our partners.
Learn More About Topics We Are Interested In
Below are a sample of resources highlighting high-impact work that we find inspiring or helpful. In addition, the Resources section of EPIC’s website highlights a variety of resources, both internal and external, on matters relating to college and career readiness and to the application of EPIC’s Four Keys model to educational practices.
10 Ways High Schools Can Contribute to College Completion
Great schools are coherent—the curriculum, instruction, schedule, structures, symbols, supports, and connections are all consistent with their mission. In this blog post, Tom Vander Ark shares tips from University Academy in Kansas City.
Helping Students Navigate the Path to College: What High Schools Can Do
The goal of this practice guide from the Institute of Education Sciences is to formulate specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations for use by educators addressing the challenge of increasing access to higher education. The guide provides practical, clear information on critical topics related to what schools can do to help students navigate the path to college.
Busting Myths About What Matters for High School and College Success
The path to and through high school and college is riddled with misguided notions and outdated assumptions about what students should know, do, and focus on in order to maximize their chances for success. Fortunately, more than a decade’s worth of research and data from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research has helped solidify the facts and dispel myths about what it takes to make it to and through college.
Why Go to College – Poster Series
Courtesy of Oregon GEAR UP, here are three student-friendly posters on the benefits of going to college.
Collaborative Stakeholder Engagement
Experts argue that the traditional stakeholder engagement model alone will not produce the long-term outcomes states desire. This report from the Education Commission of the States offers a framework for going beyond simply engaging stakeholders for input to collaborating with them to create shared goals and better results.
Creating High School and College Partnerships to Increase Postsecondary Success
This report from Jobs for the Future outlines the principles of co-design, co-delivery, and co-validation that must guide the new partnerships between high school and college campuses and systems to raise college readiness and success. The authors describe the practices of exemplary partnerships around the country and suggest policies to promote the development of more partnerships that can spread this innovative work.
Collaborating Within State Agencies to Ensure the Effective Use of Evidence
Why do some school turnaround initiatives yield substantial results and others do not? Carrie Conaway and Russell Johnston from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education explain how cooperation and data sharing within their agency revealed four common areas of practice in schools that show improvements.
Dual Enrollment Programs
In a review of research on dual enrollment programs, the What Works Clearinghouse found the programs to have positive effects on degree attainment, college access and enrollment, credit accumulation, completing high school, and general academic achievement in high school. Additionally, potentially positive effects were found on staying in high school, college readiness, and attendance for high school students. No discernible effects were found for general academic achievement in college.