Minority AP Class Success

James Hohmann:

California education officials call AP Spanish Language an important gateway to success in other honors classes — a way for struggling students to sharpen Spanish skills and gain confidence to try advanced English, math and science courses later.
“For the Latino students, the key is getting them to see success in their language,” said Sallie Wilson, the Advanced Placement consultant at the California Department of Education.
“We want the underrepresented students to get one under their belt and learn what the whole process is about,” she said. “It’s all about the peer relationship that says, `Hey man, this is a pretty cool class”.
Many schools see their AP tests as a springboard for minority groups that historically were shut out from the upper echelons of the classroom. And now those schools are doing more to encourage Latino students to take a chance on any of the 34 rigorous tests — from biology to Latin — that can translate to college credit.
Some students say a stigma can deter them and their Latino classmates from trying challenging classes.