The Pittsburgh Public Schools have an overwhelmingly amount of minority students in attendance. To see that they excel, the school district wants to create an AP African-American history course to encourage these students to take higher level classes for college credit. They also hope that in taking this class, it will inspire them to take AP courses in other subjects as well and get them thinking about going to college. However, the College Board, a nonprofit group based in New York, says it has no plans to develop such a course. Trevor Packer, vice president of the program, says that the board’s members want to continue focusing on basic courses that many students need as college freshman.

Pittsburgh schools are not the only ones looking to create such a course. The superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland says that they are also looking into an AP African-American history course for their students. He hopes to expose students to African-American history but is not pushing for it just now. The College Board says that developing a curriculum and exam is costly and extensive. Schools are permitted to use the board’s curriculum as a model for their courses, but the classes must be approved by the board before being labeled as advanced placement, and all schools must use an AP exam for the class. Currently, the AP program offers courses in 37 subjects. If students decide to take the AP exam at the end of the year, it gives them a chance to earn college credit while still in high school.

According to research conducted by the College Board, students who did well on an AP exam take more AP courses in the same subject area and once in college, score higher in these courses than those who did not take AP classes in high school. This is why it’s important that public schools begin catering to the needs and interests of black students. In 2006, black students represented 13.7 percent of the graduating seniors in the country, but only 6.9 percent took AP exams last year. At the same time, enrollment growth has increased among minority students. The Pittsburgh Public Schools have 10 high schools with the percentage of black students ranging from 35 percent to 99 percent. Only 17 percent of the 361 students in the district who took AP courses were black. These numbers obviously show that there needs to be more attention focused on these groups in order for them to have a better chance of success in life.

For related articles visit http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07218/807286-298.stm and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/02/27/AR2006022701107.html.

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