Panel Paper: Effects of Advanced Placement Science Courses on Students' Science Interest and Ability: Evaluation from a Randomized Control Trial

Friday, November 4, 2016 : 10:35 AM
Columbia 4 (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Mark Long, University of Washington, Dylan Conger, George Washington University and Raymond McGhee Jr., SRI International

This paper reports impact estimates from the first experimental study of the Advanced Placement (AP) program.  The AP program, created by the College Board, consists of a set of college-level courses (fielded by regular high school teachers) and AP exams offered to high school students who are seeking college credit for learning the material. Despite widespread AP course offerings and takings across U.S. schools, there has been no experimental evidence on the causal impact of taking an AP course on student outcomes.   We randomized nearly 2,000 students in 22 schools into AP biology and chemistry courses; evaluated the quality of course delivery; and collected data on a range of student outcomes.  In this paper, we test for the effect of AP science course access and participation on students’ ability to engage in scientific inquiry (as measured by an instrument developed and validated by the research team) as well as their interest in pursuing a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math major should they enroll in college. The study went into the field in 2012 and is finalizing collection of outcome data for the third cohort of students in April 2016.