Advanced Coursework in High School: Strategies for Improved Access and Effectiveness
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Tuttle Center (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Dania Francis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Panel Chairs: Dylan Conger, George Washington University
Discussants: Shaun Dougherty, University of Connecticut and Julie Edmunds, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; SERVE Center
Advanced Placement (AP) courses in U.S. high schools offer students an enriched and challenging curriculum and the opportunity to earn college credit. In the past decade, the number of high school students taking AP courses has more than doubled. Many selective colleges use participation in AP courses as an admissions factor even though evidence is mixed with regard to the effectiveness of AP course taking on improving post-secondary academic performance. Given the increased popularity of AP course taking among students, and the increased emphasis on AP course participation among selective colleges and universities, it is important to know more about both access to and effectiveness of AP courses. The papers in this panel use quasi-experimental research methods and large, detailed student-level datasets to examine both of these questions.
Enrollment in AP courses typically involves either self-selection by students, an eligibility determination by teachers or counselors, or both. There have been many studies investigating differential eligibility for advanced coursework, but less is known about student self-selection. This panel will present papers that use rigorous causal identification strategies to gain insight into the decisions of academically eligible students to enroll in AP courses. Results will shed light on ways to increase participation of academically eligible students. The flip side to increased participation is maintaining quality and effectiveness. Thus, a focus of the panel will also be the characteristics of students who perform well in AP courses and whether they receive longer-term benefits in the form of post-secondary outcomes.