Panel: Research on Advanced Placement Courses and Exams in High School and College

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Brazos (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Joshua Hyman, University of Connecticut
Discussants:  Matthew Kraft, Brown University

High School Peer and Teacher Effects – AP Exams: The Case of Broward County Public Schools
Patrice Iatarola and Taek Hyung Kim, Florida State University

A Randomized Control Trial of Advanced Placement Science Courses: Measuring Scientific Inquiry Skills
Mark Long1, Kavita Seeratan2, Tina Stanford2, Kevin McElhaney2, Raymond McGhee2, Christopher Harris2 and Dylan Conger3, (1)University of Washington, (2)SRI International, (3)George Washington University

How Do College Students Use Advanced Placement Credit?
Brent Evans, Vanderbilt University

The Causal Effect of Receiving College Credit in High School on Collegiate Outcomes
Michael Drew Hurwitz1, Jonathan Smith1 and Christopher Avery2, (1)The College Board, (2)Harvard University

Advanced Placement (AP) serves over 2 million high school students per year. It is intended to introduce students to rigorous high school course work and if a student is successful on the corresponding exams, they can attain college credit. For such a wide spread and rapidly expanding program, there is little evidence on how the courses are implemented in high school, how students use the credit in college, and the effects of important longer term outcomes, such as college graduation rates, major choice, and time-to-degree. This panel fills the void with four papers on AP. The first two papers look at students learning and performance in high school when exposed to AP in a variety of settings. More specifically, the first paper looks at the peer and teacher effects in AP courses to determine the influencers of passing an AP exam. It finds that classroom peers may matter in both positive and negative ways and teachers’ experience and education are positively associated with the probability of passing the AP exam. The second paper digs into the black box of student performance on the exams in the context of the first randomized-control trial into STEM related AP courses. The goals of the study are to conduct a formative and summative evaluation of the new curriculum and produce findings that can be used by educators to strengthen the teaching of advanced science courses in high school. The summative evaluation will determine the effects of the curricula on students’ ability to conduct scientific inquiry and their overall educational performance and aspirations. After examining the effects of peers and courses on learning and exam scores, the third and fourth papers turn to how these achievements in AP influence college outcomes. The third paper is the first to rigorously look at how students use the AP credit once they are enrolled in college. That is, do they take higher level courses, spend more time on outside employment, or change their major? The author also looks at the relationship between the AP college credit and enrollment and graduation rates. Related, the fourth paper tackles a similar question but is the first to use a regression discontinuity design on the underlying continuous AP exam scores, which is mapped into the well-known integer score, to estimate the causal effect of receiving college credit in high school on college enrollment, graduation, and time-to-degree. Combined, these papers follow a logical path of inquiry on the effects of AP, starting with what students learn and whether they succeed in AP, and turn to how students use their success in college level work and the overall impact on longer term collegiate outcomes. They tell a complete story of the effects of AP that researchers and policy makers, who are determining whether to expand and fund AP, must fully understand.
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