Fourteen students in the International Spanish Academy (ISA) at Okeeheelee Middle School were given the opportunity this May to take the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in Spanish Language and Culture — and all 14 of the eighth graders passed.
“Even better,” said Okeeheelee MS principal Dr. David Samore. “It was with flying colors.”
Of the 14 students, one scored a 3, eight scored a 4 and five scored a 5 on the college-level exam that allows students to earn college credit or receive advanced placement in college courses.
“This is a result of a growth mindset, no doubt,” Samore said. “The talented teacher, Veronica Sibajas, teamed with dedicated students and took performance to a new height.”
This year’s exam was the first time a middle school in the School District of Palm Beach County had students take an AP test of any kind, and the students were able to successfully pass the rigorous test with less than a semester of AP-focused preparation.
With of the success of the program, Okeeheelee Middle School is offering three sections of AP Spanish Language and Culture to more than 60 students during the 2017-2018 school year.
According to the Advanced Placement Program website, the AP Spanish Language and Culture course emphasizes communication (understanding and being understood by others) by applying the interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes of communication in real-life situations. This includes vocabulary usage, language control, communication strategies, and cultural awareness. To best facilitate the study of language and culture, the course is taught almost exclusively in Spanish. [It is taught exclusively in Spanish at Okeeheelee Middle School.]
The AP Spanish Language and Culture course engages students in an exploration of culture in both contemporary and historical contexts. The course develops students’ awareness and appreciation of cultural products (e.g., tools, books, music, laws, conventions, institutions); practices (patterns of social interactions within a culture); and perspectives (values, attitudes, and assumptions).
The School District of Palm Beach County celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month September 15-October 15. The story is one in a series for the month.