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When deciding to increase opportunities and participation in Advanced Placement, schools and districts often respond by eliminating prerequisites and opening access to these courses — so if any student wants to enroll, they can.

This is an important first step, but far from enough to promote AP success, especially for students of color.

Indeed, while it is promising to watch overall AP enrollment soar, gaps in success rates remain way too large. In 2013, 57 percent of all AP exams had scores of 3 and above, which is considered passing. But for Black and Latino students, only 30 percent and 42 percent of test-takers, respectively, had a score of 3 or above.

If students, especially students of color, are to experience the kind of success that we know is hugely valuable for college readiness and for college success, then open access must be coupled with systematic supports for students and teachers.

After visiting seven schools with high AP enrollment rates for students of color, we found that these systematic supports are what differentiated those that also demonstrated high AP success rates from those that didn’t.

In a new brief, we explore the practices and strategies at two schools serving significant populations of students of color that are not only enrolling students in AP at high rates, but also supporting students to be successful as well.

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Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.


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