Ex-Columbia superintendent pushes to expand advanced classes in St. Louis area

Jun 13, 2016 by

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former Columbia school superintendent who helped sharply increase the minority students in Advanced Placement classes is turning his attention to three St. Louis-area school districts.

Chris Belcher said he was alarmed several years ago in Columbia when he saw that few blacks and low-income students were enrolled in AP classes. He worked with principals to change procedures for the 2012-2013 school year and removed prerequisites such as high grade-point averages, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

That year, 239 additional low-income and minority students in two high schools enrolled, virtually erasing the racial and income disparities in the courses.

The passing rates on exams remained unchanged and 90 percent of the juniors who might not have otherwise taken the classes took another the next year, Belcher said.

He now works as a superintendent-in-residence for Equal Opportunity Schools, a not-for-profit group based in Seattle that worked with him to address the disparities in Columbia.

“We want to change the whole conversation about education reform,” said Belcher, who left in 2014 after five years as Columbia’s superintendent. “It’s not about fixing what’s broken. It’s about leveraging what we’re doing well already and getting more kids into the rigorous programs.”

Source: Ex-Columbia superintendent pushes to expand advanced classes in St. Louis area – Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: News

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