Jr., Chester E. Finn, / Scanlan, Andrew E.
Learning in the Fast Lane
The Past, Present, and Future of Advanced Placement
Aims and Scope
The first book to tell the story of the Advanced Placement program, the gold standard for academic rigor in American high schools
The Advanced Placement program stands as the foremost source of college-level academics for millions of high school students in the United States and beyond. More than 22,000 schools now participate in it, across nearly forty subjects, from Latin and art to calculus and computer science. Yet remarkably little has been known about how this nongovernmental program became one of the greatest success stories in K–12 education—until now. In Learning in the Fast Lane, Chester Finn and Andrew Scanlan, two of the country's most respected education analysts, offer a groundbreaking account of one of the most important educational initiatives of our time.
Learning in the Fast Lane traces the story of AP from its mid-twentieth-century origins as a niche benefit for privileged students to its emergence as a springboard to college for high schoolers nationwide, including hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged youth. Today, AP not only opens new intellectual horizons for smart teenagers, but also strengthens school ratings, attracts topflight teachers, and draws support from philanthropists, reformers, and policymakers. At the same time, it faces numerous challenges, including rival programs, curriculum wars, charges of elitism, the misgivings of influential universities, and the difficulty of infusing rigor into schools that lack it. In today's polarized climate, can AP maintain its lofty standards and surmount the problems that have sunk so many other bold education ventures?
Richly documented and thoroughly accessible, Learning in the Fast Lane is a must-read for anyone with a stake in the American school system.
- 224 pages
- 13 b/w illus. 7 tables.
- PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;
"While ample research has sought to understand the benefits of AP participation and success, Learning in the Fast Lane puts that research into context, situating the program amid other education reform efforts and comparing it to alternatives. This is insightful scholarship."—Martin R. West, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"Learning in the Fast Lane is exceptionally engaging. It deals with many complex issues, such as the main drivers of AP growth, yet it easily brings its point across with a combination of case studies and analysis."—Jonathan A. Plucker, Johns Hopkins University
"Advanced Placement’s transformation from a narrow program for an advantaged few into one that weaves expansive offerings throughout the fabric of American education today warrants a holistic, clear-eyed accounting of its present state and potential for the future. In Learning in the Fast Lane, Finn and Scanlan provide a comprehensive look at AP programs, deftly balancing candor with optimism, and detail with readability."—Nat Malkus, deputy director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute