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January 272005 Extra Credit
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January 27, 2005

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AP Courses Helping Minority Students Excel

President Bush has called for high schools to offer more challenging coursework, and for more students to elect to take it. As part of that effort, the Department has funded the Advanced Placement program, which helps students, particularly low-income students, to participate and succeed in Advanced Placement courses and exams. In the FY 2006 budget request, the President will propose $52 million for the Advanced Placement program—an increase of 73%. The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Miami Herald applauding several south Florida high schools whose minority students achieved some of the highest AP test scores in the nation:

“Ten South Florida high schools led the nation in the number of minority students who passed advanced placement exams, the challenging tests that are a widely accepted gauge of academic achievement, The Herald has learned. Eight senior highs in Miami-Dade County and two in Broward County boasted the strongest minority-student performance in at least one subject last year, besting nearly 15,000 other schools.

“ ‘It’s an incredible success story,’ said Sonia Diaz, Miami-Dade’s newly appointed deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction, who wants to expand the AP program in the district. ‘We have to see how it is they taught the courses, what their particular approach was that supported these students' success.’ ”

“…Coral Park Senior in Westchester led the nation in Hispanics passing chemistry and U.S. history. ‘Most of the families at Coral Park are close to middle class, and this means for them there is a chance that it can be done,’ said Pedro Alcocer, a father who has served on the school’s Parent-Teacher Association for four years. ‘We’re not the last in the queue -- we can be the first, and it’s a major thing.’ ”

“…The [AP] results came as no surprise at Coral Reef Senior High School in Southwest Miami-Dade, which led the country in Hispanic performance in European history and both black and Hispanic performance in English language.

“ ‘If you want to get ahead, the only way is to take an AP class,’ said Janelle Costa, a 16-year-old student in Christina Strickland’s AP English course…. When the students groan that the work is too hard, predicting doom on the spring’s standardized AP test, [Strickland] reminds them that they have plenty of time to work -- including Saturday study sessions. ‘Hate me now, love me later,’ she chanted.”

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 05/15/2008