Shmoop and Philadelphia’s Northeast High School Release New AP® Results, Prove Technology and Teachers Can Close Achievement Gap

Innovative teachers and AP coordinators used Shmoop as part of program to improve AP enrollment, saw college eligible test scores shoot up 3x with 10% increase in college matriculation. 

Despite recent news of the budget woes plaguing the school district of Philadelphia, a bright spot has been the success stories coming out of Northeast High School, located in one of the lowest income areas of the city. As part of a rigorous Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate program overhaul that began in the 2010 – 2011 school year, Northeast High School incorporated Shmoop, one of the world’s largest digital publishers of test prep materials and educational guides, and saw the number of college eligible AP scores (3+) triple in three years.

“Can a comprehensive high school with a largely low-income student body significantly increase college eligibility scores while maintaining enrollment numbers? Yes. In three years, that is exactly what Northeast High School has done,” says Ellen Siminoff, CEO and President of Shmoop. “The effective use of technology in classrooms should mean that companies like us make it easier for passionate teachers to do their jobs.”

Northeast High School students were given access Shmoop’s full suite of 30+ AP® test prep products to use as a resource to supplement the instruction they were getting in the classroom. In addition, the teachers and AP coordinators created a myriad of academic and extracurricular programs to motivate students to enroll in AP and IB classes. These programs included Saturday practice sessions, summer programs, awards assemblies, subsidized exam fees, and extra instruction and support in classrooms from staff and faculty members. As a result, Northeast High’s AP results soared. In 2007, before the programs were implemented, the school had no AP scholars and only ~10% had a score of ‘3’ or better. In contrast, after the implementation of Shmoop and the extra programs, Northeast High had 22 AP Scholars and saw more than one out of every three AP-test-taking students (36.1%) score a ‘3’ and above in the 2012 – 2013 school year. The college matriculation rate also jumped to 63% versus 53% in 2010, with 133 students earning college credit on 177 AP exams.

Closing the Achievement Gap 2013

Although Shmoop and the programs helped increase student retention rates and the number of students matriculating into college, the school was hit hard by the Philadelphia School District’s budget cuts.

“We have been sustaining the quality of these programs despite the annual budgets cuts that have occurred in the last four years, but this year, the conditions are worse, much worse than they have ever been,” says a public letter from Northeast High School teachers requesting more AP funding. “This year, we are at the point of ensuring that these programs still exist, not working to improve them.”

AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

About Shmoop
Shmoop is a digital curriculum and test prep company that makes fun, rigorous learning and teaching materials. Shmoop content is written by master teachers and Ph.D. students from Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and other top universities. Shmoop Learning Guides, Test Prep, and Teacher’s Editions balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help teachers help students understand how subjects relate to their daily lives. Shmoop sees over 7 million unique visitors a month on its site, and offers more than 7,000 titles across the Web, iPhone, Android devices, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader. The company has been honored twice by the Webby Awards, named “Best in Tech” for 2010 and 2011 by Scholastic Administrator, and awarded with two Annual Education Software Review Awards (EDDIES) in 2013. Launched in 2008, Shmoop is headquartered in a labradoodle-patrolled office in Mountain View, California.

*SAT and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of and does not endorse this product.

*ACT is a federally registered trademark of ACT, Inc. Shmoop University is not affiliated with or endorsed by ACT, Inc.

 

 

Shmoop Launches Online Courses for High School Students and a ‘High-Grade Fix’ for Breaking Bad Addicts

For students, back to school might mean the smell of sharpened pencils and lined paper, but for Shmoop, back to school smells like pure joy. We’re a digital publisher of content and educational resources for over 7 million unique monthly site visitors and thousands of schools. That means we love dishing out new products and features just in time for students and teachers to feast on as the school year gets started.

Shmoop’s Mirthfully Original Online Courses Are Here

Over the summer, Shmoop’s greatest minds and Chef de cuisines gathered together to determine how to create the perfect recipe for online courses that work. Using the highly scientific diagram below, we’ve created dozens of Common Core-aligned online courses inspired by the “best cuts” of Shmoop, including:

Introducing-ShMOOC

  • Hilarious Original Content
    Humor is the academic WD-40 we squirt on the educational tracks to make learning more fun, relevant, and accessible. So rest assured, all our content—from U.S. History to Modernist Literature to How to Write a Resumé—will have the same Shmoopy aftertaste as the literature guides and test prep resources you know and love.
  • Common Core Compliant
    Want to get published in The New Yorker? Vanity Fair? Well, Shmoop’s Common Core-aligned course on the Five-Paragraph Essay can’t help you. But we can promise to teach you to write spectacularly and nab that elusive A. Hey, we all gotta start somewhere. Check out more Common Core-aligned courses here.
  • Activities, Rubrics, & Teacher Notes
    This one we cooked up just for teachers! Shmoop’s online courses have activities, grading rubrics, quizzes, and individual diagnostics so that teachers are equipped with everything necessary to make Jedi Masters out of their Padawans—er, students.
  • Adaptable, Accessible, Affordable
    For a fraction of the price (and the weight) of a textbook, teachers and students can access high-quality, engaging content from anywhere in the world.

Go on and sample an online course from our fabulous menu of courses today!

Breaking Bad: Your Fix Of High-Grade SHMOOC

Step aside, Shakespeare. Breaking Bad is in town.

This Emmy-winning show is cleaning up on all sides, winning the hearts of critics and audiences alike. Even the Guinness World Records took it on, granting it the title of highest-rated TV series in history. This might explain why people have been nailed to their Netflix accounts for months, burning through all five seasons like it was Heisenberg’s Blue Sky. Don’t worry, Shmoop’s been there—and we’ve written academic papers about it, to boot.

Just in time for the series finale, Shmoop is releasing a 15-lesson course analyzing the beans out of this show: everything from Breaking Bad as a classical tragedy; the undertones of Shakespeare, Nietzsche, and Kafka; its visual symbolism and clever filming; why people hate Skyler; and everything in-between.

So whether you’re just a casual fan or a theory-crafting addict, become the kingpin of Breaking Bad knowledge before saying goodbye to it all on AMC this Sunday.

What You Missed Over the Summer

In order to commemorate Back to School Shmoop style, we created an infographic to catch you up on on the gossip you might have missed over the summer. (Spoiler: Jung sits with Freud now. Awkward.)

Shmoop-ShMOOC-InfoGraphic (5)

Literature Guides
Game of Thrones finally overthrew The Hunger Games trilogies as the most-read literature summary. It’s not winter, but Katniss should have seen it coming.

Careers
As school ended and some students were out on their tuchus to find a job, they turned to Shmoop’s Career guide to start their journey to becoming adults. Of the top 10 states that visited our Careers page the most, we found it interesting that the Midwest and the South tended to concentrate on government and service-oriented jobs, while the coasts gravitated toward software engineer and, um, President.

College 101
In preparation for college applications, Shmoopers turned to College 101 to research scholarships that appealed to a variety of interests, including science, technology, community service, and… prom dress making. Haven’t started the college search yet? Not to worry! Check out our revamped College 101 page today and take our new quiz to point you in the right direction for everything related to financial aid, applications, and the best college mascots.

Shmoop on All Screens
The results are in: iPhones win the popularity contest over Android devices as the device of choice for Shmoopers. We saw a near 200% increase in visits to our site via a mobile phone, and nearly 3 out of 4 of those visits were from an Apple-produced phone.

Not to brag, but..
Huge shout out to Indio High School, who added a dose of Shmoop into their AP classrooms in 2011 and saw 5x more AP scholars in 2013 vs. the year they started with us. Their teachers deserve most of the credit, as they also took the school from the chronically underperforming list to a Top High School Silver Award Winner from US News & Reports! Hip hip hooray!

For more trends and insights, click here

High-Tech Cheaters and High-Tech Solutions

This week, the Wall Street Journal detailed the ways in which cheaters are proving to be even more and more high-tech. We’re talking spy cameras and tactics that would make James Bond blush. From getting others to feed them answers to downloading answers for future test-takers, these cheaters are relentless.

With the advent of more advanced computer-based testing, it makes sense that the solutions become more and more advanced as well.

Is there a way to best these high-tech highwaymen? Let us know what you think in our poll below:

New on Shmoop: a “Woolf,” an Albatross, & Pigs

Pig Out on Our Enhanced Coverage of Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution
  • Based on your requests, we've upgraded our coverage of this classic allegory
  • Find our totally revamped Symbolism and Allegory page – mapping key events from the novel to historical events
  • Check out our deeper character analyses – outlining which characters represented which historical figures
What Gives with the Saying “Albatross Around the Neck?” Check out Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Classic Poem
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" may be one of the most influential and eerie poems in the English language, but it's a doozy of a confusing read. An old sailor stops a wedding guest and says, essentially, "I know you want to get your drink and your dance on, but now I'm going to tell you a really long story about how I got my entire crew killed and almost died myself because I acted like a jerk while sailing the far reaches of the globe."

TED Talk: David Merrill: Siftables, the Toy Blocks that Think

Maybe we’re still secretly lusting after that awesome Jabba the Hut Barge lego set that was on our holiday wish list year after year. Whatever the motivation, we think Siftables are cool.

David Merrill’s talk from the most recent TED conference caught our attention. Merrill, an MIT grad student, says that his passion is “making new human-computer interactions that better map to the way our brains work.” We think that rocks. Tactile computing could change our daily lives – and education – in big and small ways.

How would you use siftables to learn or teach?

  • chemistry experiments without the chemicals?
  • legos that visually display principles of physics and architecture?

Add your ideas in the comments below. Or, tweet @helloshmoop

Watch David Merrill’s TED Talk (7 min)