Principal’s Corner: North Tahoe High – academic rigor for everyone | SierraSun.com

Principal’s Corner: North Tahoe High – academic rigor for everyone

Joanna Mitchell
Special to the Sun

Joanna Mitchell is excited about the future at North Tahoe High School.

North Tahoe High School is an award-winning high school with course offerings competitive with some of the largest high schools in the state.

Our unique combination of extensive educational opportunities, academic challenge, and a supportive environment, is a big part of what makes North Tahoe High School so special. We also have amazing students, staff members, parents, and community partners, and a wide array of extracurricular options for our scholars.

Our priority at North Tahoe is to provide all students with academic rigor that challenges them and prepares them for college and careers. We offer a wide range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses thanks to Measure A, and we provide students access to Sierra College classes where they can earn dual high school and college credit.

Advanced Placement is a program that provides students with "rigorous, college-level classes in a variety of subjects that give students an opportunity to gain the skills and experience colleges recognize" (College Board).

We are very proud of the fact that within the past four years, North Tahoe High School has more than doubled the number of AP courses offered to students. We now offer 15 AP courses, a number that rivals high schools four times our size.

Our 15 AP course offerings are:

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• AP Biology

• AP Calculus

• AP Chemistry

• AP Computer Science

• AP English Language and Composition

• AP English Literature & Composition

• AP Environmental Science

• AP US Government & Politics

• AP US History

• AP Human Geography

• AP Microeconomics

• AP Physics

• AP Psychology

• AP Spanish Language & Composition

• AP Statistics

In the spring, students have the opportunity to take an AP exam, and if they pass with a three or better, they can earn college credit at many colleges and universities.

Many students take multiple AP classes before they graduate, giving them the opportunity to earn quite a few college credits while still in high school, potentially saving them time and money in college.

To support students in achieving their goals, students who enter high school reading at grade level or above are encouraged to enroll in Honors Freshman English so that they can have access and success in higher level coursework.

At North Tahoe High, we have seen a significant increase in the diversity of students taking Honors and AP classes, taking the SAT or ACT, meeting A-G entrance requirements for University of California's and California State Universities, and entering post-secondary educational institutions.

We are very proud of this and the fact that 91% of students in the class of 2016 had plans to enter a postsecondary educational institution.

North Tahoe's dramatic increase in enrollment in AP courses, as well as the increase in the diversity of students taking AP courses has contributed to Tahoe Truckee Unified School District's award to the College Board's Gaston Caperton Opportunity Honor Roll in 2015 for expanding access to college for typically underrepresented students.

Sophomore Myla Kahn, who is taking two AP classes this year, shared, "AP classes give you the opportunity to push yourself in school and gain college credits. I like school a lot, and to have the opportunity to learn at a higher level is important to me. In AP classes, more is expected of you, they move at a faster pace, and they prepare you for college where you have to learn more on your own."

Senior Mariana Mosqueda, who will have taken 10 AP courses by the time she graduates, said, "When I first came to high school, I just thought that my classes would be chosen for me. But my teachers saw potential in me for higher level classes and encouraged me to take honors English and AP Spanish in 10th grade. My success there encouraged me to take more AP classes. I had a lot of options to pursue my interests."

Students who enter high school reading below grade level are offered an Academic Foundations class to develop literacy and higher level study skills that will support them in gaining academic success in all of their classes.

Additionally, North Tahoe High School is in its second year of offering the GRIT Program, which is designed to support students in traditionally underrepresented populations with exploring college options and meeting college entrance requirements.

Through its cycle of continuous improvement, North Tahoe High School will continue to examine various options for maintaining and increasing the access to rigorous academics for all students.

Joanna Mitchell is principal at North Tahoe High School within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Visit ttusd.org for more.