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The Vertical Teams Program Explained

By Pauline H. Gill

Wouldn't it be nice to have AP students who already had a thorough background in the skills needed for your class? Thanks to the College Board, there is a program called Vertical Teams that will help prepare students from seventh grade to tenth grade with the skills necessary for AP classes.

Vertical teams are content teachers from middle school to high school, who meet on a regular basis to evaluate and direct the curriculum Getting Ready for AP Learning for students in grades seven through tenth grade. Some schools include six grade teachers. Teachers are from the same content area, so they can work together to create high-level learning skills for students.

Their goal is to create a rigorous curriculum to prepare more students for AP (Advanced Placement) classes in the eleventh and twelfth grade. With the help of the Pre-AP program offered by the College Board, teachers have guides to help with curriculum development. Pre-AP is a program initiative developed by the College Board to provide workshops and materials for teachers who want a challenging program for their students.

How to Start

The best way to set up vertical teams is to go to a College Board workshop or ask a College Board representative to come to your school. Vertical Team Workshop information is available at the College Board website.

Once teachers, administrators, and curriculum leaders are educated about the Vertical Team concept, then teachers need to set up a schedule for meetings. Teachers are needed in grades seven through ten, as well as teachers from AP classes. The AP teachers are needed to show what skills and knowledge is pertinent to succeed in AP classes. Teams should meet once a month, more often if there is a time crunch to develop vertically aligned material. A chair and co-chair should be appointed, as well as a recorder for minutes. The chair and co-chair should be people familiar with the College Board's AP classes or teachers who have worked with College Board material. The purpose of the team is to "develop strategic plans" in order to allow more students access to advanced placement classes.

It is advisable that the team acquire the Vertical Team Workbooks for the particular content area. Workbooks are available for science, world languages, social studies, English, math, studio art, and music. This workbook highlights ideas for units of study for middle school to high school students. The workbooks can be purchased from the AP Central webpage. Each team member should have a copy.

Communication is key in any institution. The recorder should see that all team members including administration and curriculum leaders receive copies of the meetings. Updates should be presented to the middle school and high school teachers, as well as the school board.