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Privilege, equity, and the Advanced Placement Program: tug of war

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The Advanced Placement Program is growing at a striking rate in US high schools and at the same time being abandoned by high-status schools. This paper explores the history of the Advanced Placement Program, from its roots in the 1950s as a programme for challenging high-achieving students at high-status schools, through its equity-motivated expansion in the latter decades of the 20th century, up to the present as it faces threats to its credibility and prestige. In so doing, it also explores the difficulty of combating inequality with school reform, particularly in light of continuing moves by privileged groups to gain a measure of distinction. In the case of the Advanced Placement Program, a greater push for equity has, ironically, incited a reaction that may, in the end, result in greater inequity.

Keywords: Advanced Placement; history of education; school-university relationships

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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