Motivated student seeks challenge. School says no.

Fayette County, Ga., population 106,567, resembles many Washington-area suburbs, the Washington Post reports. It has lovely trees, expensive cars and good schools. Most of the residents are middle-class. They set high standards for their kids. But what is happening to one particular Fayette County student is sadly at odds with the way ambitious students are treated here. Jacqueline Berthold, a sophomore at Starr’s Mill High School, has a grade point average of 92 on a 100 point scale, including a 93 in English. Like many students showing academic promise, she wants the challenge of taking Advanced Placement English Language next year. In the Washington area, that would be no problem. Anyone who wants to take a college-level course like AP, International Baccalaureate or Advanced International Certificate of Education may do so in the school districts along the Potomac…

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AP surges as a tool for schools raising standards

Last year, 18 percent of U.S. high school graduates passed at least one AP exam, up from 11 percent a decade ago.

Not long ago, Advanced Placement exams were mostly for top students looking to challenge themselves and get a head start on college credit. Not anymore.

In the next two weeks, 2 million students will take 3.7 million end-of-year AP exams—figures well over double those from a decade ago. With no national curriculum, AP has become the de facto gold standard for high school rigor. States and high schools are pushing AP classes and exams as a way to raise standards across the board, in some cases tying AP scores to bonuses. And the federal government is helping cover the exam fees.

Now, AP’s rapid growth is reaching even schools serving some of the most disadvantaged students. These schools are embracing AP as a comprehensive toolkit for toughening coursework, emphasizing college preparation and instilling a “culture of excellence.”…Read More