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TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation: Consider Advanced Placement for Career Technical Students


How does offering advanced placement classes in a before-school setting affect a diverse population of students in a vocational school?


While fellow students linger in the halls and lobbies socializing, AP English students begin to enter the classroom, some carrying breakfast trays from the school cafeteria. In spite of the early hour, the attendance rate is greater than 90%. The students are highly motivated lovers of literature whose achievement scores may range but whose interest in literature does not flag.

The instructors’ goals are to help these students move from an immediate emotional response to literature to a more analytical and critical approach and to get them to use the language of literary analysis. As a literary term is introduced, it is added to a word wall and is available for reference by the teachers or students. Juxtaposition, lyric, metaphor, formalism, diction, allegory, verisimilitude, and other terms like them are a part of a word garden that grows through the year.

At one time, Delaware’s vocational schools provided AP coursework to interested students. However, when the scores were printed in the local newspaper and used as a basis for comparing high schools, the vocational schools withdrew from AP offerings.

As instructors, we believed that these students would be successful with challenging coursework if they were given the opportunity to learn it and that their achievement, as recorded by state assessments, would have been higher had they had proper academic opportunities.

The class is composed of twenty-two students, ranging from freshmen to seniors. Initially there were only juniors and seniors in the class. Then, one day early in the initial year of the program, 2003–2004, a freshman timidly walked into the room and asked if she could join, and in the 2004–2005 school year, all four grade levels were represented. This gives the instructors a built-in looping structure that will give us the freshmen for four years.

While the scores for this year’s seniors on the AP exam are not available at this writing, there is other evidence. DSTP scores show promising gains for most students for whom pre- and post-AP course data are available, while those who do not demonstrate gains remain close to their pre-test scores.

Most students want to see the class expanded to add more mornings of instruction. The instructors see this class as an affirmation of their belief in the ability of all students to learn at high standards and to benefit from close reading and analysis of high-quality literature.


  • Schools should offer challenging coursework specifically designed to meet the scheduling needs of career vocational students.
  • Policy makers should publicize the findings of this example to implement a broad-based AP opportunity program to vocational students throughout the state and the nation.


Full Study
Coming Soon!

Sharon Crossen

Drama and English
Polytech High School

TNLI Affiliate:

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute--Delaware, please e-mail Michael Rasmussen.



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