The accessibility of advanced placement classes is benefiting students who are committed to working hard but may not have the high grade point average that was formerly necessary to qualify.

Soft SkillsAn increasing number of students are taking advanced courses and passing AP exams in the Lynwood Unified School District, and many of them are from low income and black families.

The 15,000 student district provided incentives, eliminating prerequisite courses and grade requirements which previously limited enrollment.

“If they want to challenge themselves, who are we to say no before they even try,” said Lynwood Supt. Gudiel R. Crosthwaite. “We want our kids to believe in themselves so that they can envision themselves continuing their education.”

Lynwood is one of two L.A. County schools that have been named to the College Board’s honor roll for their accomplishment of increasing significantly their number of students who take and pass AP exams.

Previously the advanced courses were reserved for students identified as gifted, or those who had a letter of recommendation and written commitment from a parent. They also had to have a minimum grade point average. While the intent was to reinforce the seriousness of the courses, the result was exclusionary.

“We had students doing well academically, but they couldn’t get into the AP program,” said Crossthwaite.

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