S3 Ep2: AP Programs - Creating Access for All Students with Dr. Greg Hessee

Updated: Jan 12


This episode focuses on Advanced Placement courses and programs. Dr. Greg Hessee, the current AP Coordinator at Colegio Nueva Granada, Bogota, Columbia and former Program Director for the Colorado Legacy Schools Initiative shares his expertise around building an AP program in schools and districts.


We talk about the ‘stereotype’ of an AP student, and how that thinking is part of why AP courses, and access to the rigorous curriculum, is often denied to students of color, poverty, and students perceived as ‘low achievers’. Greg shares a personal story that changed his perspective on who should be in AP classes, and how this led to his work helping develop initiatives around equitable access and building diverse demographics in AP courses and programs.


Greg shares results, successes and challenges of the various initiatives he has worked on to increase the participation and diversity in AP courses. He shares ideas and strategies on ways to help schools and districts create a more equitable and robust AP program. He also talks about how participation in AP courses benefits all the students, regardless of whether they take the AP Exam at the end of the course.

There’s so much more, including financial incentives, professional development, teacher and student mindsets, so be sure to listen all the way through!



Some of the questions and topics explored in this episode:

  1. What are Advanced Placement courses?

  2. How is placement/selection in AP courses historically and inherently racist?

  3. What are some initiatives that have been developed to help inovercome discriminatory practices in AP course participation and that increase the number and diversity of students?

  4. What does the data show when initiatives are put in place for equitable access to AP courses?

  5. How does funding support change pf the AP selection discriminatory practices?

  6. What is the academic mindset and how does this influence students' feelings about whether they belong or not in AP courses?

  7. Why is professional development for AP course teachers so crucial to a successful, diverse AP program?

  8. Are financial incentives for teachers and students successful?

  9. The importance of high expectations.

  10. The importance of teacher recruitment of students for AP courses. Positive peer pressure!

  11. Open enrollment - what does this actually mean?

  12. How do you start pockets of innovative recruitment?

  13. Are the AP exam score pressures a barrier to student enrollment and teacher acceptance of diverse populations?

  14. What is ‘the pass-rate pissing contest?’

  15. Teachers should be judged for what they do for ALL students, not just the students who do well on assessments.

  16. How do you build a pre-AP program so that it is not a tracking metric, but really opens the door for more learning opportunities?

  17. How do you avoid tracking?

  18. What does research on tracking show and why do we still do it?

  19. How do the pressures of time, assessment, etc. impact teacher change in instructional strategies that support ALL students?

  20. Dual enrollment vs. AP courses - differences and advantages of each.

Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

  1. Dr. Greg Hessee

  2. Dr. Greg Hessee, LinkedIn

  3. Colegio Nueva Granada, Bogota, Columbia

  4. Colorado Legacy Schools Initiative

  5. College Board - Advanced Placement

  6. National Math and Science Initiative

  7. Who Benefits from Expansion of AP Courses?

  8. College Board Sanctioned Professional Development

  9. The Bottom Line on Student Tracking

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