City Education Department officials have launched a $1.6 million plan to bring more black and Hispanic students into Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the Daily News has learned.
The city’s new Lead Higher program aims to bring 1,400 of these students at two dozen public schools into AP classes that are often dominated by white and Asian students.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said the program will help shrink the achievement gap faced by black and Hispanic students, who enroll in AP classes and pass AP exams at lower rates than their white and Asian peers.
“This is an exciting initiative that reflects our commitment to diversity and inclusion in our classrooms,” Fariña said.
“Equity and excellence means ensuring all students have access to rigorous AP courses, and are enrolled in those courses and reaping the benefits.”
Students who pass AP exams in a variety of subjects ranging from calculus to U.S. history may receive college credits or special consideration in college admissions.
But the valuable classes have been mostly available at schools that enroll more white and Asian students compared with those that enroll more black and Hispanic kids.
A 2013 report found that white and Asian students attended city high schools with twice as many AP courses, compared with schools attended by black and Hispanic students.
Mayor de Blasio outlined a plan to address the inequality in 2015, dubbed “AP for All,” that brought new AP classes to 63 high schools in 2016.
Under de Blasio’s plan, 75% of students will have access to at least five AP classes by fall 2018. By fall 2021, students at all high schools will have access to at least five AP classes.
The Lead Higher program builds on that effort by adding tutoring, teacher training and more AP seats targeted at black and Hispanic students at high schools across the five boroughs starting in September.
Another seven schools will roll out added AP resources under Lead Higher in 2019. If the program yields strong results it may be expanded further.
The city is splitting the cost of the effort and rolling out the program in partnership with a Seattle-based nonprofit called Equal Opportunity Schools.
The challenges faced by black and Hispanic students who wish to earn AP credits are severe.
Just 7,386 black and Hispanic students passed AP exams in the 2014-15 school year, compared to 14,323 white and Asian students. Black and Hispanic kids account for roughly 70% of all city school students.
Melanie Katz, principal of Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, said she hopes the Lead Higher program will help her add another 60 black and Hispanic students to AP classes in 2017.
“We’re reaching out to students, their families and the community to let them know the classes are out there,” Katz said. “The message is, ‘you can do it and we will help you through it.’ ” she continued.