Advanced Placement Program

From modest beginnings in 1955, the Advanced Placement Program has grown to be the premier program in this country for promoting academic excellence in high school. Designed to develop rigorous, college-level course curriculum and assessments for high school students, currently the AP Program serves to set standards for work in 34 courses, and is active in teacher training and professional development. The Advanced Placement Program is administered by The College Board of New York and taught at local high schools, allow students to take part in a college level course and probably earn college credit while still in high school. Secondary schools and colleges cooperate in this program to give students the opportunity to show mastery in college-level courses by taking the AP exam in May of each school year.

History AP Program

In the early part of the twentieth century, the gap between secondary and higher education widened. Following World War II, several Americans realized that this trend had to be reversed. Responding to the requirement for a better-educated populace, the Ford Foundation created the Fund for the Advancement of Education. In two studies supported by the fund, educators recommended that secondary schools and colleges work together to avoid repetition in course work at the high school and college levels and to allow motivated students to work at the height of their capabilities and Advance as quickly as possible.

One study, conducted by educators from three elite prep schoolsAndover, Exeter, and Lawrencevilleand three of the country's most prestigious collegesHarvard, Princeton, and Yaleurged schools and colleges to see themselves as "two halves of a common enterprise." The report recommended that secondary schools recruit imaginative teachers, and that they encourage high school seniors to engage in independent study and college-level work, and that achievement exams are used to allow students to enter college with advanced standing.

A second study by the Committee on Admission with Advanced Standing formulated a plan for developing college level curriculum and standards that could be instituted at the high school level. The Committee on Admission then recruited leaders in every discipline from the ranks of higher education to develop high school course descriptions and assessments that colleges would find precise to use as a basis for granting credit. A pilot program in 1952 was launched introducing advanced courses in 11 initial subjects. By the 1955-56 school year, the program was under way and the College Board invited to step in and take over administration of the program, named the College Board Advanced Placement Program.