An AP program allows high school students to enroll in college-level classes to earn college credit prior to graduation from high school. Students earn college credit by taking an exam demonstrating they’re proficient in a specific area of study. It provides high school students an opportunity to experience the demands of college work and is also recognized by colleges as an important factor in admission criteria. In some respects, I would argue earned AP credits can be better predictors of college success than SAT scores.
One of my favorite movies from years ago is “Stand and Deliver.” If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s based on a true story about Jaime Escalante (played by Edward James Olmos), who taught mathematics in East. L.A.’s Garfield High School. Mr. Escalante taught mostly Hispanic students and used their hopes (as well as their fears) to inspire them to learn math. His efforts included teaching college-level calculus for AP credit. Overcoming economic, financial, racial, and social challenges, the students of Garfield High School excelled thanks to Mr. Escalante’s commitment. Having been involved with an AP program many years ago, I can share that it takes a lot of desire, motivation, and commitment – or what Mr. Escalante would call, “ganas.”
The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies provides AP course data below showing students that take AP courses in high school. In comparison to other demographic groups, Hispanic high school students are doing incredibly well. A positive sign for many reasons.
While much work still needs to be done in curtailing Hispanic high school drop out rates and other educational challenges, it’s very inspiring to see real numbers that demonstrate progress is being made. Many of these students are likely on a direct path toward college – ready and willing to take on the academic challenges and rigor of higher education. When given the opportunity, Hispanic high school students, college learners, interns, and professionals do have the motivation, the desire, and the commitment to succeed – they have the ganas. One of my favorite scenes.