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The Link between Advanced Placement Experience and Early College Success


  • Kristin Klopfenstein

    () (Department of Economics, Texas Christian University, Box 298510, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA)

  • M. Kathleen Thomas

    () (Department of Finance and Economics, Mississippi State University, Box 9580, 326 McCool Hall, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristin Klopfenstein & M. Kathleen Thomas, 2009. "The Link between Advanced Placement Experience and Early College Success," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 873-891, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:3:y:2009:p:873-891

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory C. Wolniak & Ryan S. Wells & Mark E. Engberg & Catherine A. Manly, 2016. "College Enhancement Strategies and Socioeconomic Inequality," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(3), pages 310-334, May.
    2. Cecilia Speroni, 2011. "Determinants of Students Success: The Role of Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment Programs," Mathematica Policy Research Reports e3994f748a66428b802df56d0, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. Jensen, Elizabeth J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Early decision and college performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 517-525, August.
    4. repec:mpr:mprres:7289 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination


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