Majority-Black AP Calculus Class Bucks National Trends

At Portland's De La Salle High School, two-thirds of AP calculus students are black.

\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n A recent report from the College Board revealed that 80 percent of black students who could do well in AP classes never end up taking them. But an AP calculus class at Portland's De La Salle North Catholic High School, is bucking the national trend: two-thirds of the class' students are black.

"I wonder, do those schools give black people a chance?" senior Kevin Jones told The Oregonian about the majority of the state's other high schools. Indeed, of Oregon's high schools with more than 25 black students enrolled, only five schools have even one black student taking calculus.

So how does the small 600-student school do it? Although the majority of students at De La Salle start their freshman year behind in math, the school ensures that the students catch up by taking extra classes. As a result, by the time senior year comes around, they're ready for calculus.

Like any excellent AP teacher, 37-year-old Scott Reis works hard to ensure the students are prepared to do well on the AP exam. As you can see in the video above, Reis helps students master things like functions and anti-derivatives through extra study groups and tutoring, along with making his class an engaging, community learning experience. His enthusiasm for the subject also influences his students, who are frequently seen around campus helping each other out.

There's no reason what's happening at De La Salle can't be replicated at other schools. At a time when we need more math graduates, it's inspiring to see the school taking steps to ensure that students of color excel in the field.