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February 18, 2006

Advanced Classes Open Doors for Minorities

School district works to boost participation

By Kelly McBride

The path toward post-secondary education formed naturally for 18-year-old Wekeana Lassiter.

Her mom always emphasized the importance of learning. An older sister attends college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. And Lassiter is a studious Green Bay Preble High School senior with aspirations of becoming an architect.

If college was a given, the Advanced Placement courses that are preparing her for it — as well as allowing her to earn college credit — made just as much sense for Lassiter, who will attend UWM in the fall.

"Originally, why I took AP classes was to get credit," said Lassiter, who is enrolled in AP physics and AP calculus. "Now that I'm in them, they're really difficult, (but) it's awesome. You get kind of a feel about how college classes are going to be."

But the doors that have opened for Lassiter, who is black, have in many cases stayed closed for some of her peers, say officials in the Green Bay School District.

Minority participation in AP courses continues to lag behind that of their white counterparts, with a lower percentage of minority students, by about 15 percentage points, taking AP courses than that of whites during 2004-05, data show.

But the figures are improving, and district officials say new initiatives can help alter the disparity.

Posted by Laurie Frost at February 18, 2006 11:44 AM
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