...Brenda Willett, whose sons went through the Chinese immersion program at Montgomery's Potomac Elementary School, said part of the trend can be attributed to inadequate preparation at the elementary and middle school level. By the time her now-college-age son reached his junior year in high school, when students would consider the AP course, only a handful of nonnative speakers had been able to keep up. Asian students -- many of whom had been studying the language at home and outside of school since childhood -- filled in the vacant seats, Willett said.
"The kids who were ethnically Chinese were favored," Willett said. "The teacher felt that the immersion program had failed the other students."
For students, a passing score on the test can be used for college credit at most universities. But students are hardly the only beneficiaries. Major high school ranking systems created in the past decade rely almost exclusively on AP participation rates. Achievement aside, the more students who take the tests, the higher the school and school district rank.
And in the Washington region, a whopping 77 percent of schools ranked in the top 6 percent of schools nationwide, as measured by a recent ranking based on AP and similar test participation...