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Learning in the Fast LaneThe Past, Present, and Future of Advanced Placement$
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Chester E. Finn and Andrew E. Scanlan

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691178721

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691178721.001.0001

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Early Days

Early Days

(p.9) 1 Early Days
Learning in the Fast Lane

Chester E. Finn

Andrew E. Scanlan

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the earliest days of Advanced Placement (AP) and the growing pains of its first two decades. At the outset, AP was explicitly intended for the strongest students at top high schools, those who “already had the luxury of being bound for prestigious colleges and universities, room to excel and an inducement to continue to work hard.” However, while the lore surrounding the program's birth associates it mostly with eastern prep schools, in fact the “pioneer schools” were a mix of independent and public institutions, the latter mostly located in upper-middle-class suburbs of major cities in the East and Midwest. Acceleration and degree credit were not the only appeal—or benefit—of AP. Many students were “content with the enrichment that the AP courses had provided” and “never applied for either AP credit or advancement in college.” For all the excitement and expansion, however, after two decades AP remained predominantly a boon for relatively privileged kids.

Keywords:   Advanced Placement program, high schools, prep schools, degree credit, Advanced Placement courses, privileged kids

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