The Link between Advanced Placement Experience and Early College Success
The Advanced Placement (AP) Program was originally designed to provide students a means to earn college credit and/or advanced placement for learning college-level material in high school. Today the program serves an equally important role as a signal in college admissions. This paper examines the extent to which AP course-taking predicts early college grades and retention. Controlling for a broad range of student, school, and curricular characteristics, we find that AP experience does not reliably predict first semester college grades or retention to the second year. We show that failing to control for the student’s non-AP curricular experience, particularly in math and science, leads to positively biased AP coefficients. Our findings raise questions about recent state policies mandating AP inclusion in all school districts or high schools and the practice of giving preference to students with AP course experience in the university admissions process.
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Volume (Year): 75 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (January)
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