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Yale Professor Faults AP Program


New Haven, Conn. — William Lichten, emeritus professor of physics at Yale University, will speak at a National Science Foundation-sponsored conference on Advanced High School Coursework in Science and Mathematics at Harvard University on May 11.

In his talk, Lichten says that the increase in College Board Advanced Placement (AP) courses in inner city, predominantly minority schools has failed.

Citing non-selective Philadelphia public schools as a case study, Lichten noted that the majority of such schools could not claim a single person who passed even one of the last round of AP examinations in 2006. He suggested that children suffering from the “test gap” (difference between their performance on tests from those of middle-class students) would be better served by “college preparation, not college imitation.”

In his talk, Lichten cites a press account of the total failure of a Florida inner city AP class in the 1995–1996 school year and the College Board’s own research that predicted high failure rates for minority/poverty students in AP examinations. Despite these omens, the College Board and U.S. Commissioner of Education announced in early April 2000, plans to install 10 AP courses in every high school in the country. In an August 2000 article, Lichten questioned the wisdom of this move. His case study of Philadelphia schools in 2006 verifies the failure of this approach.

Lichten can be reached at 914-922-1750 and by cell phone at 914-406-0863 or email to


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