In Lynwood, Advanced Placement Classes Are No Longer Only for the Elite
The school district’s hope is that the challenging AP courses inspire students to go straight from high school to college and help them do better when they get there. Research suggests that students who take more difficult high school classes fare better in college.
With the jump-start of a $1.4 million U.S. Department of Education grant, the district trained teachers to lead AP classes, and counselors and administrators worked to create a master schedule that let more students enroll in advanced courses. The school system also set aside some funds to pay teachers for the additional hours they spend on their AP courses and students outside of class time and during the summer, but it could not fund as much time as teachers decided on their own to devote to the task.
The $93 cost of each test also was removed as an obstacle. Outside aid programs cut the cost to $5 apiece for low-income students, which Lynwood picked up.
Valenzuela, whose parents’ educations stopped at sixth grade, said her teachers — including Jonathon King for biology and Zohereh Sheibanifar for calculus — worked before and after school and on weekends to help students prepare for AP tests.
College counselors such as Kaytan Shah also did their part. “My friend did not want to take an AP class because she wasn’t sure she would pass the class or do well,” Valenzuela said, but Shah “told her she should try.”