- The Mississippi Public School Consortium for Educational Access is working to bring Advanced Placement (AP) courses to rural schools in the state, where access to these classes is limited, Quitman County Superintendent Evelyn Jossell and Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics Director Meg Urry write for The Hechinger Report.
- The Consortium sees access to AP classes as a civil rights issue with the opportunity to bring equality and advanced learning to all students, no matter their circumstances.
- The first class to launch through the Consortium is AP Physics, where expert teachers speak to the class online, in-class instructors offer additional support, and college students provide tutoring.
Advanced Placement courses are a chance for students to test their abilities beyond what’s offered in a traditional high-school curriculum. They are meant to be a college course taught in a high school environment, as passing an AP test can give students college credit for the course and potentially lower the cost of a college education. There is also an added benefit for all students who take and pass AP classes in high school of earning higher ACT scores, according to a 2015 study published in The Journal of Educational Research.
But fewer Latino and black students have access to AP classes than their white counterparts, according to a report from the New York Equity Coalition. In 2017, New York’s white high school students passed 89,506 AP tests by earning a 3 or higher, as compared to the 27,100 exams passed by Latino and black students.
In some cases, districts and schools may find AP classes are out of their reach financially. These courses require extra material, teachers who are capable of teaching college-level lessons, and students taking an expensive test, which costs $94 and is reduced to $53 for students who have financial need.
Curriculum designers, however, shouldn’t shy away from trying to offer these classes to their students — either through partnerships with experts in their community or by bringing in outside teachers through online tools. The need is too great to level the playing field for all students in building their college and career-readiness skills.