All students who are ready for the rigor of the Advanced Placement Program® (AP) — regardless of their location, background, or socioeconomic status — have a right to fulfill that potential. Although the number of low-income students participating in AP has grown steadily over the last decade, there are still thousands of students who are solidly prepared for the rigors of AP but lack access to it.
To expand access to the AP Program for low-income students, the College Board, through $1.2 million in grant support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, launched the AP Opportunity Program. This initiative has enabled almost 70 schools across the nation to start nearly 140 new AP courses. The program enrolled approximately 9,000 students during the 2014-17 academic school years. These new AP courses were launched in the fall of 2014. The goal of the five-year program is to ensure that low-income students have access to AP courses and are encouraged to enroll.
By removing a school’s significant barriers to starting an AP course, and asking a school to commit to the courses for at least three years, the College Board hopes the AP Opportunity Program will lead to sustainable AP programs for years to come.
This grant provided each participating school with “start-up” funding for the classroom resources, educational materials, and teacher professional development typically needed to start new AP courses. In addition, each teacher received “replacement funding” in the second and third to replace anything depleted by the class, such as lab materials.
Funding for classroom resources varied by course and ranged from $1,200 for AP Computer Science A to $9,000 for AP Chemistry. Requests for course start-up materials were fulfilled through DonorsChoose.org.
Teachers of the new AP course(s) in participating schools attended a four- to five-day, subject-specific professional development workshop called an AP Summer Institute (APSI). These workshops ranged in cost from $400 to $1,400, based on the state (and existing state subsidies). Participating teachers registered for a local APSI, and the tuition was paid directly to the APSI director by the College Board. The district or school provided the cost of transportation, any required lodging, and any meals not covered by the tuition cost.
Key Dates of the Program
August–September 2018 — Teachers will receive an AP Opportunity Program Year 5 Survey that will verify course offerings and student enrollment in the AP Opportunity Program course(s).
September 2018 — Deadline for teachers to submit the AP Opportunity Program Year 5 Survey that verifies course offerings and student enrollment.
School Selection Criteria
To focus the funding on schools with the greatest need, the following data-driven criteria were used to develop the list of schools selected for this initiative:
- They are public high schools in the U.S.
- They serve large numbers of low-income students; 70 percent or higher of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch (FRL).
- They have 10 or more students with high potential to be successful in college-level AP courses that were not offered at the high school in the 2012-13 academic year. AP potential is indicated by the students' scores on the 2012 PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). For this criterion, high AP potential is defined as a 60 percent or higher likelihood of scoring a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Exam.
As of 2018, no new schools are being added to the AP Opportunity Program.