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A dynamo in pursuing his objectives, Packer has built an army of inspired teachers that has grown from about 87,000 when he took over 15 years ago to 165,000 today. That is the stuff that makes me happiest.” In 2003, 95,065 students from low-income families took an AP exam.But his main focus has been opening AP to participation by students from disadvantaged families. By this year, that number had jumped to 608,707, a 540 percent increase.
“When I started as head of AP in 2003, one in 10 kids in AP classrooms were low-income,” he says. The portion of low-income test takers increased from 9 percent to 22 percent.
Often, the addition of so many impoverished participants causes average standardized test scores to drop, but the average AP score has remained fairly stable and was higher in 2018 than it was a decade ago, when more than 1 million fewer students took the tests.
And earlier this year, seven Washington-area prep schools said they would be eliminating AP courses from their curriculums.
Some might see these moves as a threat to AP’s foothold, but so far they’ve had little effect on the program’s continuing growth.
The movement to unleash the potential of impoverished American teenagers through AP began with Escalante’s 1987 miracle.
That year, his big barrio school, Garfield High in East Los Angeles, produced 27 percent of all the Mexican American students in the United States who passed an AP calculus exam.He has a longtime girlfriend but has never married and has no children, although he does have 23 nieces and nephews.He is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving as Sunday school teacher at his congregation in Manhattan.This is the first published article about him and his life. Tens of thousands of teenagers follow him on Twitter. About 16,000 public and private schools offer AP courses.The public schools with AP educate 89 percent of all public high-schoolers.Thirty years later, due to a string of unlikely events, Packer is national director of the AP program and determined to make its fruits accessible to kids from modest backgrounds like his own. He is also — along with the late Jaime Escalante, the East Los Angeles math teacher who was the subject of the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver” — the man most responsible for making the Advanced Placement program the most powerful educational tool in the country.A scholarly, mild-mannered 48-year-old, Packer is pretty much unknown outside the world of AP. And his leadership is a critical factor at a time when AP is both undergoing rapid expansion and facing criticism and nascent challenges.ne night in May 1986, Trevor Packer’s mother received a phone call from his high school principal.The boy had failed to sign up for the college-level Advanced Placement European history exam the next day, and the principal wondered why he wasn’t going to take it.Escalante is Packer’s hero, though they never met before Escalante’s death in 2010.Their only similarities — other than devotion to AP — are that both spent their early years in lakeside towns on mountain plateaus (Escalante’s Bolivian hometown, Achacachi, is much higher than Provo, Utah) and were the sons of educators who had little money.