Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge is planning to add a battery of new courses this fall that will allow ninth and 10th graders to prepare to take the challenging Advanced Placement courses when they reach junior and senior year.

The public high school is just one of 100 schools nationwide selected by The College Board, the publisher of Advanced Placement, to road test its new Pre-AP program starting with the 2018-19 school year.

Principal Scott Stevens said an administrator with AP told him last week that Woodlawn High was the only school in Louisiana selected for the program. The College Board said Tuesday it has not "finalized" its list of participating schools.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board provided its preliminary approval last week for the new program and is set to give final approval when it meets again Thursday night.

The high school, located at 15755 Jefferson Highway, is paying the College Board $10,400 a year to try out the new courses. Stevens said that covers everything except for teacher travel expenses for training.

"That was a lot cheaper than I thought it was going to be," Stevens said.

Woodlawn High currently offers 19 Advanced Placement courses. The eight new Pre-AP courses cover all of the core subjects as well as some new areas such as drama, music, theater and visual arts. In 2019-2020, the high school plans to add 10th-grade Pre-AP courses in geometry, chemistry and English.

Woodlawn had 119 students take the AP exam in 2016-17, with 31 percent of them passing. Baton Rouge Magnet High led the state last year with 896 test-takers, with 53 percent of them passing.

According to its agreement with the College Board, the objectives of the Pre-AP program are “to significantly increase the number of students who are able to access and complete college-level work before leaving high school and to improve the college readiness of all students.”

As part of that, participating schools will have to make these new Pre-AP courses open to “all students.” That will be a change for Woodlawn. Students who want to take their AP courses now need a minimum GPA of 2.5, and must have completed all of their prerequisite courses.

Woodlawn has a growing cadre of high-achieving students. It's had a gifted program since 2009. Last August, it added a new academic magnet program with minimum admission requirements.

According to the agreement with The College Board, an estimated 275 ninth-graders at Woodlawn High will take the world history & geography, algebra and English Pre-AP courses, while about 100 ninth-graders are expected to take biology. During their courses, the students will take tests online through The College Board as well as complete  “performance tasks.” Students in the new Pre-AP arts courses will just have to do two performance tasks. By 2019-20, the College Board will offer end-of-course exams for its non-arts Pre-AP course.

Stevens said students who take Pre-AP courses won't be required to take AP courses later in high school. He said there are some students who prefer dual enrollment and other courses instead.

"It’s not that you have to take AP, but you will be ready if you do," Stevens explained.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.