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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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Poor Kids Advance, Too

Poor Kids Advance, Too

(p.21) 2 Poor Kids Advance, Too
Learning in the Fast Lane

Chester E. Finn

Andrew E. Scanlan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the developments in Advanced Placement (AP) from the years following its first two decades up to the mid-1990s. By the late 1970s, a profound directional shift began with the gradual emergence of a second major AP mission: assisting able disadvantaged students to engage with and master college-level academic challenges during high school; boosting their confidence that they might in fact be “college material” even if family members and neighbors had never matriculated; and—as with their more privileged age-mates—holding out the possibility of exam scores that would elevate their admissions prospects and kick-start their progress toward degrees. As the participation of minority youngsters expanded faster than the program as a whole, particularly toward the end of the 1980s, the national AP population began to diversify. State legislators began to pass laws that encouraged AP participation and expanded access to it. These years also saw the College Board adding more subjects to the AP catalog. Some of the new classes were accessible to younger high school students without a lot of prerequisites, and some appeared less daunting than physics and calculus. Ultimately, during this period, “AP became a national program to a degree which even its most fervent supporters in the early years could not have imagined.”

Keywords:   Advanced Placement program, disadvantaged students, high school students, college admissions, minority youngsters, Advanced Placement participation, College Board, AP subjects

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