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.
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