Closing the Rigorous Coursework Gap
At Two Rivers High School, more than 30 rigorous courses provide students with college-credit-bearing opportunities. In addition, a handful of courses provide industry-recognized certificates, on-the-job training, and internships. We’re continually working on expanding these offerings and aligning them with career pathways. Still, despite these opportunities, gaps remain, and barriers exist to accessing these advanced courses.
Our Black, Latino, Native American, and multiracial students are disproportionately underrepresented in advanced courses at the high school level. As a result, students—particularly our students of color—are not accessing a full range of college and career opportunities that can provide them with a future that leads to the ongoing benefits of gainful employment.
Expansion of Rigorous Coursework Grant
With the help of a new grant awarded by the Minnesota Department of Education, the Expansion of Rigorous Course Opportunities and Support Grant, we’re working to close the rigorous coursework gap and support college and career readiness for all students. The grant will fill gaps in what advanced courses we offer, how we offer them, and how we ensure the success of students who enroll.
Our ultimate goal is for the number of students of color enrolled in rigorous courses to mirror the demographic representation of Two Rivers High School. This year, we have more students of color in our rigorous courses than we’ve ever had—38%. Throughout the two-year grant, we anticipate that more than 300 students will receive direct benefits from erasing the gaps in programming and providing enhanced and personalized service for students.
Here’s a snapshot of how we’re doing it:
- Added an Information Technology/Computer Science course to TriDistrict CAPS. Students learn through firsthand experience in a real technology department, housed at Two Rivers. So far this school year, students have repaired 20+ Chromebooks and have gained valuable work experience to build their resumes.
- Created a new staff position, College and Career Specialist, whose primary focus will be supporting staff and students in these new or altered classes.
- Added more time during the school day for AP Human Geography and AP Biology which are the entry paths to advanced courses in those two departments. More time for the course allows for the development of solid relationships, more time to learn content, and more structures put in place for students as they transition to high school.
- Developed a new Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate Course, which provides the training required for basic entry into healthcare as a nursing assistant or home health aide. This course will carry with it the opportunity to earn their CNA certificate as well as five college credits.
- Added student tutors. Addition of student teaching assistants (upper-level students) support the double-period blocked course with a focus on working with small groups of students.
“When we launched this work, we believed it would significantly benefit more of our students,” says Peter Mau, Assistant Superintendent. “Now nearly one year later, we can quantifiably see those differences in our students’ outcomes.”