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The Advanced Placement Arms Race and the Reproduction of Educational Inequality

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Abstract

Access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses is stratified by class and race. Researchers have identified how schools serving disadvantaged students suffer from various kinds of resource deprivations, concluding that interventions are needed to equalize access to AP courses. On the other hand, the theory of Effectively Maintained Inequality (EMI) argues that schools serving advantaged students may perpetuate inequalities by expanding their AP curriculum so their graduates can be competitive in the college admissions process.

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... Through the rest of the 1990s and into the 2000s, when the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS) sophomore cohort of 2002 was moving through the K-12 education system, policies and efforts such as Algebra for All, College Prep for All, and the ''AP arms race'' continued to focus on curricular upgrading (Allensworth et al. 2009;Domina et al. 2014Domina et al. , 2015Klugman 2013). In 2009, as the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS) was beginning, President Obama ''set a goal for all U.S. citizens to complete at least one year of postsecondary education and to lead the world in postsecondary attainment by 2020'' (Almeida 2015;Obama 2009), and states moved toward widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that emphasize college and career readiness for all students (Polikoff et al. 2016;Porter et al. 2011). ...
... on increasing completion of higher-level math and lab-based science courses (Domina et al. 2016;Dougherty, Mellor, and Jian 2006;Gamoran and Hannigan 2000;Iatarola, Conger, and Long 2011;Klugman 2013). This policy emphasis on STEM will likely continue: Demand for jobs in STEM fields is high and projected to increase in coming years, and research shows that high school math and science coursework predicts future participation in STEM fields (Bottia et al. 2015;Bozick and Owings 2008;Carnevale, Smith, and Strohl 2013;Lee 2012;Long et al. 2009). ...
... 17 Taken together, the results indicate that the four course-taking variables combine to create a single curricular intensity factor in each cohort; on average, English, core science, math, and AP course taking increased across cohorts, and the association between each observed course variable and curricular intensity shifted over time. This is consistent with changes in curricular policy and practice: first, a focus on accelerating students' math course taking and later the expansion of AP course taking (Klugman 2013). In HS&B, core science was most strongly related to curricular intensity; the association declined between HS&B and NELS but is relatively stable. ...
Article
This article presents a new measure of curricular intensity that is objective, parsimonious, clearly defined, replicable, and comparable over time for use by researchers interested in examining trends, causes, and outcomes of high school course taking. After proposing a reduced-form version of Adelman’s curricular intensity index comprised of number of courses completed in English and core science, highest math course completed, and whether students took at least one Advanced Placement course, I test the measure in four National Center for Education Statistics high school longitudinal studies using confirmatory factor analysis. I examine the methodological implications of the measure by conducting multigroup tests for invariance across cohorts to understand how curricular intensity changes over time and comparing the measure’s predictive validity to that of alternative measures of course taking. I then examine substantive implications of the measure through analysis of trends and inequalities in curricular intensity. The four course-taking variables combined create a strong measure of curricular intensity across cohorts that performs as well as or better than Adelman’s index in explaining variance in postsecondary outcomes and predicting postsecondary success. The measure accounts for shifts over time in the relative contribution of each course-taking variable to overall curricular intensity, facilitating more accurate comparisons across cohorts or data sets. I provide practical guidance for using the measure in other data sets, including state- and district-level data, to analyze overall trends and gaps in curricular intensity and its role in postsecondary success, and I discuss some potential uses of the measure for future research and policy.
... Research has suggested that earlier placements in mathematics and science courses position students for later participation in advanced STEM courses [32,33]. However, accelerated learning has been shown to be inequitable based on sociocultural background [34], often leading to racial stratification in learning opportunities [35]. This has been the case in mathematics, which has led to negative influences on enrollment and achievement in advanced sciences [36,37]. ...
... Students traditionally underrepresented in STEM have been less likely to be enrolled compared to their counterparts, even when academically ready [44]. Klugman [35] suggested a supply and demand viewpoint for enrollment, indicating that while more underrepresented students may be recruited into AP courses, parity is difficult to achieve due to a greater demand for AP courses from affluent communities. Highly competitive colleges and universities consider AP experience a desirable credential [45], placing students who attend schools with limited AP access at a disadvantage. ...
... As indicated in prior research related to AP participation, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian students were all underrepresented in AP Physics courses [84]. Since AP Physics 2 and AP Physics C courses were recommended as second-year courses, the inequitable decreases in enrollment may be partly explained by disparities in access based on students' socioeconomic and sociocultural backgrounds [10,13,14,27,34,35]. Furthermore, research has shown that high poverty schools that serve a majority of students underrepresented in STEM tend to have restricted access to advanced science and mathematics courses such as AP Physics [10,14,30,31,35,85]. ...
Article
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Access and performance in advanced high school physics have been persistently inequitable when considering student ethnicity and gender. This quasiexperimental, observational study examined access and performance of students in four Advanced Placement (AP) Physics courses in 2018–2019: AP Physics 1 ( N = 1 5 0 451 ), AP Physics 2 ( N = 20 466 ), AP Physics C Mechanics ( N = 49 951 ), and AP Physics C Electricity & Magnetism ( N = 21 602 ); this analysis utilized an intersectional lens of ethnicity and gender in identifying enrollment and performance disparities. Descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted to determine whether the distribution of student ethnicities and genders of students who took the examinations was similar to that of U.S. schools. Further analyses were conducted to determine whether achievement on AP Physics examinations varied by 14 unique intersectional groups characterized by gender and ethnicity. Results indicated that AP Physics 1 was a relatively accessible course, though enrollment disparities among genders, ethnicities, and intersectional groups grew as the AP Physics courses became more advanced with physics and/or calculus prerequisites or corequisites. There were large decreases in course enrollments from first- to second-year AP Physics courses, particularly for women who were also underrepresented ethnic minorities. In terms of performance, AP Physics 1 had the lowest overall weighted average, with the majority of students failing the examination. Women who were traditionally underrepresented ethnic minorities were found to have failure rates of over 80% on the AP Physics 1 examination, and failure rates near 50% for AP Physics 2 and the AP Physics C courses compared to nonminority men who had approximately half the failure rates. In most cases, men outperformed women who shared their ethnicities. These results present opportunities for physics education policy makers and researchers to design interventions for students in intersecting marginalized social groups, many of whom have disproportionately low representation and achievement in advanced high school physics, which occurs at a critical juncture in the physics pipeline.
... Approaches that seek to reduce inequality of educational opportunity tend to focus on increasing assess to valued resources for those most often excluded. Klugman (2013) refers to this approach as embracing a "resource deprivation" perspective, which views "high-level curricula as opportunities to learn and argue that inequalities of access to high-level curricula result from disadvantaged families' and schools' limited resources" (p. 114). ...
... From this perspective, one way to narrow inequalities in opportunity is to increase the possibility that underprivileged youth will have access to the same valued and consequential resources that more advantaged youth have. Klugman (2013) argues that the resource-deprivation perspective is incomplete because it does not take a systemic view of distribution of resources. Instead, the focus on increasing access for one segment of the society ignores the tendency for social systems to maintain inequalities. ...
... Instead, the focus on increasing access for one segment of the society ignores the tendency for social systems to maintain inequalities. Specifically, scholars taking a systemic perspective on distribution of resources have noted a tendency for members of socioeconomically advantaged groups to behave in ways that seek further and additional resources for themselves (and their children) when less advantaged groups are being provided access to valued resources and opportunities (Klugman, 2013;Lucas, 2001). This tendency is explained through the lens of effectively maintained inequality (EMI) theory (Lucas, 2001), which asserts that "socioeconomically advantaged actors secure for themselves and their children some degree of advantage wherever advantages are commonly possible" (p. ...
Article
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Many in the US view algebra as a gatekeeper to advanced study of mathematics, and increasing enrollment in algebra courses as a strategy to address unequal access to educational opportunity. As a result, universal enrollment policies, which require all students to complete Algebra I by grade 8 or 9, have garnered attention in school districts or states. Based on a view that school districts are the primary implementers of state and national policy in the US, this study surveyed a nationally representative sample of districts to investigate the prevalence of such policies and their relationship to algebra enrollment. Districts reported substantial increases in Algebra I enrollments in eighth grade, although ninth grade remains the most common year students enroll. Only 26% of districts reported having universal enrollment policies; in these districts, linear regression indicated that an association with higher eighth grade Algebra I enrollment was moderated by poverty level (measured by FRL). As a result, universal policies, while decreasing within-district disparities, may increase disparities between districts. These disparities may be explained by maximally maintained inequality (Raftery & Hout, 1993) and effectively maintained inequality theories (Lucas, 2001), which posit that more affluent groups take deliberate action to perpetuate inequalities.
... Schools with lower per-pupil expenditures and lower-socioeconomic status student bodies offer fewer advanced college-preparatory course offerings (Adelman 2006;Roscigno et al. 2006;Klugman 2013). Indeed, research suggests that more highly educated parents are more likely to act individually and collectively to procure educational advantages for their children (Lareau 1987;Lucas 2001), like demanding that schools offer more AP courses (Klugman 2013). ...
... Schools with lower per-pupil expenditures and lower-socioeconomic status student bodies offer fewer advanced college-preparatory course offerings (Adelman 2006;Roscigno et al. 2006;Klugman 2013). Indeed, research suggests that more highly educated parents are more likely to act individually and collectively to procure educational advantages for their children (Lareau 1987;Lucas 2001), like demanding that schools offer more AP courses (Klugman 2013). For these reasons, I expect that schools in local labor markets with higher concentrations of subbaccalaureate jobs will devote a smaller share of their course offerings to advanced college-preparatory courses compared to schools in local labor markets with lower concentrations of these jobs, in part because these schools have fewer resources. ...
... The primary school resources of interest are educational spending and school socioeconomic composition. Previous research has linked both to advanced college-preparatory course offerings (Adelman 2006;Roscigno et al. 2006;Klugman 2013). I include student-teacher ratio as an additional indicator of school resources, but its inclusion does not alter the results. ...
Article
I investigate how the educational demands of local labor markets shape high school course offerings and student course taking. Using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 linked to the U.S. Census 2000, I focus on local economic variation in the share of jobs that do not demand a bachelor’s degree. I find that schools in local labor markets with higher concentrations of subbaccalaureate jobs devote a larger share of their course offerings to career and technical education (CTE) courses and a smaller share to advanced college-preparatory courses compared to schools in labor markets with lower concentrations of subbaccalaureate jobs, even net of school resources. Students in labor markets with higher concentrations of subbaccalaureate jobs take greater numbers of CTE courses, and higher-achieving students in these labor markets are less likely to take advanced math and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses. These course-taking disparities are largely due to school course offerings. This study shows how local economic inequalities shape high school curricular stratification, and suggests that school curricula linked to the educational demands of local jobs delimits the college preparation opportunities of high-achieving students.
... As I explain in more detail in this chapter, there is ample evidence that the high school context influences students' college preparation, application and enrollment. For example, studies reveal variation in high school counseling practices and course taking opportunities (Cabrera and La Nasa 2001;Hill 2008;Klugman 2013;Smith 2011). ...
... Advanced Placement (AP) courses (Klugman 2013). High schools differently connect students with colleges using strategies with varying efficacy (Hill 2008 (Geiser and Santelices 2004). ...
... Moreover, schools with higher SES student populations tend to offer more AP courses than lower SES schools (Klugman 2013 Although these colleges do not specify a minimum test score, colleges favor students whose scores are within, or close to, the institutional mean. Therefore, applicants with scores that are much lower than those listed above have reduced access to elite and highly selective colleges. ...
Article
While many studies of college choice have focused on whether high schools have a general “college-going culture,” this dissertation considers the specific nature of college preparation and support that is conducive to elite college enrollment. This qualitative study examines the college preparation and choice process of high achieving students in two urban, selective admission public high schools where most students were from poor or working class families. Both schools had a college going-culture but neither had developed an elite college-going culture. As a result, some students did not apply to elite colleges when they were qualified. Other students did not have the opportunity to adequately prepare for elite college admissions, despite very high academic achievement. This study relied on in depth interviews and observations. Interviews with thirty high achieving 12th grade students provide a detailed account of their course taking, college application and choice process. Interviews with fifteen teachers shed light on how they advised students about college preparation and choice. In addition, participant observation in counselors’ offices and in college recruitment sessions revealed how students learned about the landscape of higher education. I identify three aspects of the high school experience that deterred elite college enrollment among high achieving students. First, students were unable to access high-level courses that would facilitate their access to elite colleges. Additionally, students and teachers alike were often unaware of the importance of taking high-level courses, such as calculus, for elite college admission. Second, students at both schools had minimal access to recruiters from elite colleges. Not only were recruiters from non-elite and non-selective colleges more likely to visit, they were more effective in addressing students’ concerns about cost, transportation and standard of living in college. Finally, many teachers and students doubted that an elite college education was desirable. Teachers had limited familiarity with elite colleges. Moreover, because of the concerns about student debt, teachers actively deterred students from any private institution. Overall, the study helps to explain the role high schools can play in limiting students’ opportunities to enroll in elite colleges and universities.
... AP access is conditioned on several school-level characteristics, including socioeconomic status, racial/ethnic composition, enrollment, student-teacher ratio, and geographic locale (Thier, Beach, Todd, & Coleman, 2016). The few studies to examine growth in AP access have found schools that serve higher proportions of students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and/or students of color increase AP course offerings at slower rates than schools with student bodies of higher socioeconomic status and/or less diversity (Klopfenstein, 2004;Klugman, 2013;Zarate & Pachon, 2006). These inequalities are especially problematic considering the AP program has been repositioned to simultaneously improve college access and better prepare students for postsecondary success. ...
... Several researchers have found AP access to associate negatively with schools' percentage of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch (Barnard-Brak, McGaha-Garnett, & Burley, 2011;Iatarola, Conger, & Long, 2011;Klopfenstein, 2004;Zarate & Pachon, 2006). There also seems to be some agreement across studies that schools with a high proportion of White students have more AP access (Barnard-Brak et al., 2011;Cisneros, Gomez, Powers, Holloway-Libell, & Corley, 2014;Iatarola et al., 2011) than schools with a high proportion of Black, Latinx, or American Indian/Alaska Native students (Conger et al., 2009;Darity, Castellino, Tyson, Cobb, & McMillen, 2001;Klugman, 2013), although authors vary in how they categorize student groups. With respect to school size, the number of students enrolled has a positive relationship with AP access (Cisneros et al., 2014;Iatarola et al., 2011;Jeong, 2009;Malkus, 2016;Zarate & Pachon, 2006). ...
... The few studies that have examined relations between AP access and schools' student-teacher ratios produced negative (Iatarola et al., 2011) or inconclusive associations (Conger et al., 2009). Finally, regarding geographic locale, schools in suburban areas, on average, appear to have more AP access than schools in cities, towns, or rural areas (Gagnon & Mattingly, 2016;Jeong, 2009;Klopfenstein, 2004;Klugman, 2013;Zarate & Pachon, 2006). ...
Article
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This study employed hierarchical piecewise growth modeling and two interrupted time series models to examine the effect of introducing an Advanced Placement (AP) school accountability incentive on AP access in Pennsylvania. Specifically, we examined whether adoption of an advanced course access accountability indicator was associated with an increase in AP course offerings initially and in the three years after the policy intervention. We also analyzed if the indicator differentially affected schools we hypothesized as sensitive or nonsensitive to the policy and examined demographic differences between those school groups. Pennsylvania’s AP accountability incentive was associated with an initial increase in schools’ AP course offerings, but the trajectory of change during the post-policy intervention period did not differ from the pre-policy baseline period. Also, the sizeable gap between schools with the most and fewest AP course offerings did not narrow across time. Instead, the gap widened. Our results suggest that adoption of AP school accountability incentives may not be a long-term solution to improving AP access for all schools or narrowing disparities in access between schools. We call for examinations in other states to determine if, and under what conditions, AP accountability incentives increase AP course offerings while narrowing access disparities.
... The growth of AP courses is evidenced by an increase of 83% in the amount of schools offering AP courses and an increase of 485% in the amount of students completing at least one AP exam between 1992 and 2012. Klugman (2013) referred to this astounding growth as an AP "arms race." Correspondingly, beginning in the 1990s, there was a strong movement toward standards-based curriculum with an emphasis placed on the need for rigorous course curriculum, particularly in the areas of STEM (National Research Council, 2007;U.S. ...
... My finding that AP has grown at a greater rate among underrepresented minorities is somewhat misaligned with Klugman's (2013) detailed research of California schools. Klugman suggested expansion of AP programs to lower income students is possible through concerted systemic effort, but that such effort is often countered by further growth among uppermiddle class students due to mechanisms such as parent pressure and expectation. ...
Article
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Rapid growth of Advanced Placement (AP) exams in the last 2 decades has been paralleled by national enthusiasm to promote availability and rigor of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Trends were examined in STEM AP to evaluate and compare growth and achievement. Analysis included individual STEM subjects and disaggregation by ethnicity. Analysis indicates growth in STEM AP was extraordinary but was slightly outmatched by non-AP subjects. Moreover, growth in STEM AP has been most pronounced among underrepresented minorities, even though their achievement has slightly declined. Interestingly, the proportion of students scoring at the lowest level grew steadily for all students from 1997 to 2010, yet this proportion was substantially less for Asian and White students compared to underrepresented minorities. Finally, it was found that achievement in most high-participation STEM subjects slightly decreased from 1998 to 2013, while achievement held steady or slightly increased in lower participation STEM AP subjects.
... Some researchers have used HLM to study the impact of the AP program (e.g., Burney, 2010;McKillip & Rawls, 2013;Shaw et al., 2013). For example, Klugman (2013) found that even though AP participation increased in most public schools in California from 1997 to 2006, participation grew faster in schools with a higher percentage of middle-class students. Klugman used this information (about school-level variables) to draw conclusions about an "Advanced Placement arms race" (p. ...
... • • There are already inequalities in access to AP programs to students, with students in suburban and middle-and upper-socioeconomic classes generally having the most access to AP course offerings. How should college admissions personnel use the information on student participation in the AP program without exacerbating inequalities in AP offerings (Klugman, 2013)? • • Given evidence that English language learners sometimes take the AP test that corresponds to their native language (College Board, 2014b; Kanno & Kangas, 2014;Warne, 2016), do English language learners taking these AP language tests receive any academic benefits? ...
Article
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With more than 3 million participants per year, the Advanced Placement (AP) program is one of the most popular programs in the United States for exposing high-achieving high school students to advanced academic content. Sponsored by the College Board, the AP program provides a framework in which high school teachers can teach introductory college-level courses to high school students. These students then take one of 34 standardized tests at the end of the year, and students who score well on their course’s AP test can receive college credit from their university in which they later enroll. Despite the popularity of the AP program, remarkably little independent research has been conducted on the academic benefits of AP. In this article, I summarize the state of knowledge about the academic benefits of AP. Previous research and descriptive data indicate that AP students outperform non-AP students on a variety of academic measures, but many other aspects of the program are poorly understood, partially due to variability across AP subjects. These aspects include the causal impact of AP, which components of the program are most effective in boosting academic achievement, and how students engage with the AP program. I also conclude by making suggestions for researchers to use new methodologies to investigate new scientific and policy questions and new student populations to improve the educational scholars’ and practitioners’ understanding of the AP program.
... Beach et al. (2019, p. 8) 137Klugman (2013) ...
... Beach et al. (2019);Klugman (2013) ...
Article
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This report from the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC) explores research related to Advanced Placement (AP) courses through an equity lens. It answers five questions: 1) What are AP classes? 2) Who enrolls and succeeds in AP classes? 3) Why do disparities in AP matter? 4) What factors contribute to disparities in AP participation and performance? 5) What policies and practices help to address disparities in AP access, enrollment, and performance? The report comes from the MERC Equitable Access and Support for Advanced Coursework study.
... Studies specific to particular states have arrived at similar conclusions. Incentives in California, Florida, and Texas have led to increased AP course offerings at schools in low-income neighborhoods, but access has increased at an even greater rate in middle-and upper-class districts (Conger et al., 2009;Klopfenstein, 2004a;Klugman, 2013). Klugman (2013) argues, "To maintain their competitive edge, students from advantaged groups, such as high-SES families, will pursue an increasing number of distinctions, a dynamic that their schools facilitate" (p. 2), which, he explains, is an example of effectively maintained inequality (Lucas, 2001). ...
... Some evidence suggests the intractability of AP inequities can be attributed to the reproduction efforts of institutions controlled by dominant groups. For example, as schools serving low-income students develop AP programs, schools serving middle-and high-income students expand their offerings even more (Klugman, 2013), and some elite schools shed their course offerings of AP altogether (Schneider, 2009). Detracking policies that attempt to bring students of different backgrounds into the same classes are met with resistance from parents whose children will benefit from a stratified system (Wells & Serna, 1996). ...
Article
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The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers an opportunity for students to earn college credit and develop college-ready skills in high school. The curriculum was initially designed for “superior” students at exclusive private schools. Recently, however, the AP program has expanded to serve more students from marginalized backgrounds, and equitable access has become one of its core objectives. Scholars have questioned whether AP can continue to offer effective college preparation while expanding beyond the populations it was initially designed to serve. This literature review summarizes existing research on whether the AP program has achieved its dual goals of equal access and effectiveness. The extant literature suggests that, despite impressive gains in access to AP, significant barriers remain to its becoming a program that ensures equal access for all students and effectively prepares them for college coursework. Assessing whether these barriers can be overcome, however, demands new approaches to AP research.
... The control variables in this study included student demographics and student academic performance (GPA); these are common controls used in other research on accelerated programs. Prior research suggests that students' access to accelerated programs varies based on demographics and prior academic performance (Cogner, Long, & Iatarola, 2009;Karp et al., 2007;Klopfenstein, 2004;Klugman, 2013;Museus, Lutovsky, & Colbeck, 2007;Taylor, 2015), so including these controls helps mitigate baseline differences in how students select or are placed into different programs. Student demographics included gender, race/ethnicity, special education designation, and income status (an indicator if a student qualified for free or reduced lunch any time during high school). ...
... Because students who participated in both programs were more successful than non-participants and students who exclusively enrolled in either program, the results suggest that schools and colleges should consider promoting both programs and then assess which students have access and which students benefit from these program. Despite this, descriptive data reported in Table 5 and Table 6 show that participation in AP and CE was not equitable, which aligns with prior literature that shows inequitable access to these programs (Cogner, Long, & Iatarola, 2009;Karp et al., 2007;Klopfenstein, 2004;Klugman, 2013;Museus, Lutovsky, & Colbeck, 2007;Taylor, 2015). Because participation in both programs predicts college enrollment and retention, policymakers and leaders should identify ways to expand access for underrepresented students if they wish to reduce existing disparities in college access and success. ...
Article
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Accelerated programs (concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement) are expanding across the US, yet there is little evidence on the relationships between participation in different accelerated programs, standards-based concurrent enrollment programs (e.g., accredited programs), and educational outcomes. This study used data from a cohort of Arkansas high school graduates and school-level fixed effects to assess how different accelerated programs predict students’ likelihood of enrolling in and being retained in an Arkansas college. We found that participation in concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement predicts college access and college retention. However, we found no differences in college access and retention based on whether students participated in a NACEP-accredited concurrent enrollment program or not. The results suggest the need to expand access to both concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement and the need for more research on standards-based concurrent enrollment programs such as those that are NACEP-accredited.
... These studies and many others have shown that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to be placed in the most rigorous tracks than are their more privileged peers. Within-school inequalities also include access to Advanced Placement courses (common in the US, externally assessed and providing advanced standing in university: see Provasnik (2007) for a comprehensive analysis) and/or the IB Diploma Programme (Donaldson, 2015;Klugman, 2013;Kyburg et al., 2007;Perna et al., 2015). Schools often base admission to the DP, for instance, on prior academic achievement (Gehring, 2001;Perna et al., 2015): students from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds tend to have lower academic performance than their more privileged peers (Palardy, 2008;Portes, 2005;Sirin, 2005), so are less likely to be placed in these programmes. ...
... Schools often base admission to the DP, for instance, on prior academic achievement (Gehring, 2001;Perna et al., 2015): students from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds tend to have lower academic performance than their more privileged peers (Palardy, 2008;Portes, 2005;Sirin, 2005), so are less likely to be placed in these programmes. Disadvantaged students are also less likely to participate because the schools that they attend are less likely to offer these programmes compared to schools attended by more privileged students, as has been found in the US (Barnard-Brak et al., 2011;Klugman, 2013;Rumberger and Thomas, 2000) and Australia (Lamb et al., 2001;Perry and Southwell, 2014). ...
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This study examines access to International Baccalaureate schools in Australia. It is important to examine whether, as a highly regarded form of rigorous academic education, IB programmes are available to a wide range of students. We examine the location of schools in Australia that offer one or more of the IB Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme or Diploma Programme, their fees and admissions policies, and what types of students they enrol. The findings show that most schools in Australia that offer any of these three IB programmes are located in affluent communities of large cities, are privately-funded, charge moderate to high fees, and enrol mostly students from privileged socioeconomic backgrounds.
... For instance, from 1986 to 2010 student participation in AP grew by nearly seven times (College Board, 2010), leading some to claim that the AP has been democratized (Lacy, 2010). Despite increased access to AP, there continues to be concerns about stratification by race/ethnicity and income level for those who participate in AP courses and exams (Klopfenstein, 2004;Klugman, 2013). ...
Article
Background/Context Researchers have examined a number of admission-enhancing strategies utilized by students to strengthen their college applications. These academic and nonacademic strategies represent a range of opportunities differentially accessed by students, which can bolster their college profiles and increase their overall likelihood of college enrollment. Purpose/Objective The purpose of this study is to determine if the relationship between students’ socioeconomic status (SES) and use of admission-enhancing strategies changed over time. We address the following specific research questions: • To what extent were there differences in the use of admission-enhancing strategies between low- and high-SES students in the 1990s and 2000s? • To what extent did these relationships between SES and the use of admission-enhancing strategies differ by academic achievement? • To what extent did SES gaps increase, decrease, or remain stable between the 1990s and the 2000s? Research Design This study utilized a correlational design, via secondary data analysis. Specifically, the analytic plan for this study consisted of three main parts: 1) descriptive statistics, including analyses of mean differences and change over time, 2) logistic regression to determine how SES predicts the use of college admission-enhancing strategies separately by cohort, and 3) comparison of predicted probabilities of strategy use by SES within cohorts, as well as over time between cohorts. Findings/Results SES is related to greater use of these strategies among high school students, and this relationship has been maintained over time. Additionally, specifically comparing changes in the gap of strategy use between high- and low-SES students reveals that inequality has not only been maintained, but has increased over time. Conclusions/Recommendations Findings contribute to a growing body of literature examining educational inequalities. Results also imply that admissions processes and decisions should be conducted with awareness of the stratifying nature of these admission-enhancing strategies. The findings also lead to the suggestion that more programs are needed that foster greater involvement among low-SES students in activities that will be seen as desirable by selective institutions and aid them in going to a college of their choice.
... In our setting, a parallel process might involve the creation of a doubly advanced new eighth-grade geometry track in schools in which access to algebra broadened considerably. At the school level, EMI implies that efforts to create new forms of curricular differentiation will be most pronounced in settings serving large populations of students from privileged social backgrounds (e.g., Klugman, 2013). We therefore predict: ...
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Between 2003 and 2013, the proportion of California eighth graders enrolled in algebra or a more advanced course nearly doubled to 65%. In this article, we consider the organizational processes that accompanied this curricular intensification. Facing a complex set of accountability, institutional, technical/functional, and internal political pressures, California schools responded to the algebra-for-all effort in diverse ways. While some schools detracked by enrolling all eighth graders in algebra, others “tracked up,” creating more advanced geometry opportunities while increasing algebra enrollments. These responses created a new differentiated course structure that is likely to benefit advantaged students. Consistent with the effectively maintained inequality hypothesis, we find that detracking occurred primarily in disadvantaged schools while “tracking up” occurred primarily in advantaged schools.
... Families consider many factors in choosing schools for their children, and some schools are seen as "higher quality" than others (Lareau and Goyette 2014). Perceptions of "quality" are often closely linked to schools' socioeconomic and racial composition (Bourdieu 1984;Krysan, Crowder, and Bader 2014;Sikkink and Emerson 2008;Weininger 2014), and they reflect the fact that schools with larger proportions of higher-SES White students typically have higher standardized test scores and more amenities (e.g., smaller class sizes, more experienced teachers, more course offerings, more technology) than do other schools (Condron and Roscigno 2003;Duke 2000;Klugman 2013;Logan et al. 2012;Rafalow 2018;Shedd 2015;Wenglinsky 1997). Because of the perceived benefits, families (especially higher-SES White families) are willing to pay more to live in neighborhoods with "high-quality" schools (Barrow 2002;Hasan and Kumar 2019). ...
Article
As privilege-dependent organizations, U.S. public schools have an interest in catering to higher-SES White families. But, what happens when privileged families’ interests conflict with schools’ stated goals? Focusing on the case of homework, and drawing insights from organizational theory, cultural capital theory, and research on parent involvement in schools, I examine how schools’ dependence on higher-SES White families influences their enforcement of rules. Using a longitudinal, ethnographic study of one socioeconomically diverse public elementary school, I find that teachers wanted to enforce homework rules, but they worried doing so would lead to conflict with the higher-SES White “helicopter” parents, on whom they relied most for support. Thus, teachers selectively enforced rules, using evidence of “helicopter” parenting to determine which students “deserved” leeway and lenience. Those decisions, in turn, contributed to inequalities in teachers’ punishment and evaluation of students. Broadly, these findings suggest privilege-dependence leads schools to appease privileged families, even when those actions contradict the school’s stated goals. These findings also challenge standard policy assumptions about parent involvement and homework, and they suggest policies aimed at reducing the power of privilege are necessary for lessening inequalities in school.
... However, the persistent AP opportunity gap has led to suggestions for administrators to evaluate their AP programs, reconsider student expectations, offer more AP courses, and identify schools and districts where gaps have been narrowed or eliminated (The Education Trust, 2013). Research indicates that when attempts to recruit more underrepresented students into AP are successful, it remains difficult to reach parity because such efforts are often countered by the greater demand for AP in more affluent communities (Klugman, 2013). ...
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This exploratory study examined and compared overall trends in growth and student achievement of the Advanced Placement (AP) program. Using data from the past two decades, analyses indicated there has been steady and extensive growth of AP participation, particularly among underclassmen and some minority groups. However, overall achievement, as measured by pass rates, has declined somewhat over the last 20 years with the proportion of students earning the lowest AP score of a 1 increasing twofold. Possible underpinning causes discussed include limited course choices for high ability students , in-class incentive recruitment practices, and changing ethos about AP.
... Thus, flexibility in curriculum choices in Scotland would tend to advantage students from higher social classes because their families are more familiar with the education system and have a better understanding of the role that subject choices play for entering selective HE institutions (Iannelli et al. 2016). Moreover, structural factors, such as schools' provision of advanced-level subjects, may also reinforce social inequalities, with schools in economically disadvantaged areas not offering these subjects at all or providing only a limited number of subjects from which to choose (Klugman 2013). Nevertheless, evidence from the USA suggests that socioeconomic inequality persists in the uptake of AP courses, even in schools with a high provision of these courses (Handwerk et al. 2008). ...
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This paper analyses the role that different components of the academic strength of the secondary-school curriculum (i.e. number, subjects and grades of advanced academic courses) play in explaining social origin differences in access to prestigious universities (but also to other higher education institutions) in Scotland and the USA. A central aim of the paper is to investigate whether the mechanism behind the studied patterns of inequality differs depending on the characteristics of each educational system. Our results show pronounced social class gaps in entering top higher education institutions in both Scotland and the USA. Academic curriculum plays an important role in explaining these social class differences in both countries. However, while in Scotland type of subjects taken at an advanced level is the strongest mediator for the identified social class differences, in the USA, number of advanced subjects is the strongest. Moreover, taking into account the three academic components combined entirely explains the social class differences in Scotland. Considerable inequalities which are not explained by the strength of academic curriculum remain in the USA.
... Lower SES schools often have fewer advanced academic curricular offerings and more vocational and/or remedial offerings compared to other schools (Anyon, 1981;Rumberger & Palardy, 2005;Rumberger & Thomas, 2000). More recently, Klugman (2013) and Barnard-Brak, McGaha-Gamett and Burley (2011) have shown that lower SES schools typically offer fewer Advanced Placement courses (a standardised, externally assessed program that can lead to advanced standing in university) than higher SES schools. While between-school inequalities in the United States are significant, we argue that they are of a magnitude lower than the between-school inequalities in Australia. ...
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This paper examines curricular differentiation and stratification in the Australian education system. Our aim is to contribute to the development of a comparative framework about curricular differentiation and stratification in national systems of education. Using a typology from LeTender, Hofer and Shimizu (2003), we show how and where curricular differentiation and stratification occur in Australia. We draw on secondary sources and our insider, lived knowledge to show how and where curricular differentiation and stratification occur as well as the structural features of Australian schooling that mediate them. Curricular differentiation and stratification are not widely researched in the Australian context, suggesting that these processes are naturalised. As such, this paper presents preliminary insights that can serve as a foundation for future research.
... In fact, test-optional admission policies may perpetuate stratification within the postsecondary sector, in particular, by assigning greater importance to credentials that are more accessible to advantaged populations. Without access to standardized test data for every applicant, test-optional colleges rely more heavily on school-specific measures, such as strength of curriculum or involvement outside the classroom, to draw comparisons between prospective students; however, several studies reveal that the availability of advanced (AP, IB, and honors) courses and extracurricular opportunities is unequally distributed across socioeconomic groups (Espenshade & Radford, 2009;Iatarola, Conger, & Long, 2011;Klugman, 2013;Perna et al., 2013), and that low-SES students face greater obstacles to participating in the classes Test-Optional Movement and activities that facilitate selective college enrollment (Klugman, 2012). As a result, testoptional colleges may be inadvertently trading one inequitable policy for another-a troubling notion given that 11 additional selective liberal arts colleges have adopted test-optional polices in the past 2 years alone, 7 advancing what Diver (2006) referred to as a "new front in the admissions arms race." ...
Article
The test-optional movement in the United States emerged largely in response to criticism of standardized admissions tests as inadequate and potentially biased measures of postsecondary promise. Although anecdotal reports suggest that test-optional policies have improved campus diversity, empirical research has not yet confirmed this claim. Consequently, this study employs quasi-experimental techniques to assess the relationship between test-optional policy implementation and subsequent growth in the proportion of low-income and minority students enrolling at adopting liberal arts colleges. It also examines whether test-optional policies increase institutional standing through greater application numbers and higher reported Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores. Results show that, on average, test-optional policies enhance the perceived selectivity, rather than the diversity, of participating institutions.
... The courses are designed to prepare students to engage with knowledge and skills characteristic of college coursework and to be among the most rigorous courses in high schools (College Board, 2014). However, students from nondominant cultural backgrounds take fewer AP classes (Malkus, 2016), and the schools these students attend offer fewer AP courses (Klugman, 2013;Solórzano & Ornelas, 2004) and/or deliver subpar instruction (Hallett & Venegas, 2011). The distribution and performance of AP students from marginalized backgrounds in AP classes-which have significance for college access-suggest that they are an important component of social reproduction in schools. ...
Article
Rigorous learning opportunities at high schools in low-income neighborhoods are limited and ineffective, and in these settings the Advanced Placement (AP) program has mostly eluded successful implementation. In this study, Suneal Kolluri analyzes two schools in the same low-income, Latinx neighborhood that, despite comparable numerical gains, have adopted very different approaches to AP. One school emphasizes competition and dominant cultural norms, while the other stresses collectivism and community cultural wealth. This analysis elaborates the theory of organizational habitus to suggest that schools can look beyond local postsecondary opportunity structures when designing policies and curricula. Ultimately, Kolluri argues, a school's organizational habitus will profoundly impact how students engage with AP classes.
... Finally, some districts that serve working class and racially diverse student populations may be reluctant to increase AP course offerings because district administrators perceive little demand and need among their students and view other resource and staffing needs as more pressing (Klugman, 2013). These issues highlight the need for inclusive and equitable policies and programs aimed at increasing access, test-taking, and preparing students for AP courses and examinations. ...
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Participation in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and AP test-taking are widely viewed as indicators of students’ college readiness. We analyzed enrollment in AP courses and AP test outcomes in Arizona to document disparities in students’ access to rigorous curricula in high school and outline some implications of these patterns for education stakeholders. Findings suggest that although 80% of high schools in Arizona offered at least one AP course, the total number of AP courses offered varied considerably across schools. Small schools and schools that served higher percentages of minority students were less likely to offer a wide range of AP courses than large schools and schools with majority White student populations. Although Hispanic students were underrepresented in AP courses, they had the highest test-taking rate. Only a third of the Hispanic students who took AP courses passed the AP test.
... This means that earlier course taking tendencies have implications for the likelihood of taking and succeeding in AP classes in high school (Kolluri, 2018;Shores et al., 2019). Similarly, because low-income students are less likely to have the same access to AP classes as their higher-income peers, they are less likely to be able to build the academic momentum needed to carry them into future rigorous coursework to prepare them for college (Klugman, 2013). • Belonging. ...
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MERC is developing a literature brief on Advanced Placement courses as a part of our Equitable Access and Support for Advanced Coursework Study. The brief will be published in the fall of 2020. In the meantime, here are some highlights from the research that help answer the question, “who takes Advanced Placement courses?” Writing Team : David Naff, PhD (MERC/VCU SOE), Jenna Lenhardt, PhD (VCU SOE), Mitchell Parry (VCU SOE), Tomika Ferguson, PhD (VCU SOE), Zoey Lu (VCU SOE), Virginia Palencia (VCU SOE), Theodore Stripling (University of Chicago) Elisa Tedona (Chesterfield), Elizabeth Baber (VCU SOE)
... Although studies have demonstrated potential benefits of AP program participation for students' college careers, differential access to quality AP program can exacerbate unequal learning opportunities to students (Price, 2020). Studies have shown that access to AP courses across the nation and performance on AP examinations are stratified by race and class (Kanno & Kangas, 2014;Klugman, 2013;Schneider, 2009), and as such can be related to racial segregation and income inequality (Card & Rothstein, 2007;Tienken, 2012). Inequitable learning opportunities in AP courses are often attributed to shortages of qualified and experienced teachers, and an overall lower quality of instruction in schools with higher percentages of historically underserved and marginalized students (Hallett & Venegas, 2011;Kyburg et al., 2007;Taliaferro & DeCuir-Gunby, 2008). ...
Preprint
Approximately two million students take Advanced Placement (AP) examinations annually. However, departmental policies that allow students to replace introductory courses with AP credit greatly vary within and across universities, even across relatively similar universities. This study examines the impact of AP credit policies on subsequent course success in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics at six large public research universities (N = 48,230 students). Examining average treatment effects for students skipping college courses using inverse-probability weights with regression adjustment, we found that students who skipped actually performed similarly well or better in subsequent courses than students who did not skip, even in contexts where lower AP scores were accepted. We also discovered wide variation in percentage of students who chose to skip when meeting their local policies. Therefore, to reduce unnecessary coursework that is burdensome for both students and universities, we suggest that departments consider modifying AP credit policies and that advisors consider encouraging students to skip when they have eligible AP scores.
... Specifically, extant literature points to historical and current inequalities in the availability of AP coursework across high schools. High schools that have greater shares of low-income students and students of color are less likely to offer a breadth of advanced coursework, relative to high schools that serve affluent or White students (Klopfenstein, 2004;Klugman, 2013;Office for Civil Rights [OCR], 2012;Solórzano & Ornelas, 2004). ...
Article
Background/Context Each year, large shares of students who could do well in Advanced Placement courses and exams—known as AP potential students—do not participate, particularly students of color and low-income students. There are a number of prevailing reasons, both structural (schools do not offer the courses, or teachers do not accurately identify students) and as well as student- centered (lack of motivation, conflicts with other activities, or lack of self-efficacy). Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study This study seeks to empirically test these common reasons for foregoing AP participation with the following research questions: How are student and school characteristics related to the probabilities of students attending a high school that offers a corresponding course, enrolling in the course, and taking the exam? To what extent are explanations such as students’ constraints on time, lack of motivation, or lack of self-efficacy related to the probability of AP course- and exam-taking, net of student- and school-level measures? How well do AP potential estimates align with teacher recommendations into advanced coursework? We focused on differences across race and class throughout. Research Design We define AP potential as a 60% percent probability or better of receiving at least a 3 on an AP exam in either math or English. Using a nationally representative sample of sophomores in 2002 whom we identified as having AP potential, we answered the first research question with a sequential logit. We then used postestimation commands in Stata to examine motivation, hours working, hours in extracurricular activities, and measures of English and math self-efficacy to address the second research question. For the third research question, we modeled the probability of student misidentification—or the probability that the teacher of a student with AP potential will not identify them for honors or AP courses—using a logit. Conclusions/Recommendations We found that large shares of students did not fulfill their AP potential, which varied by student background and subject area. We did not find support for many of the student-centered reasons for forgoing AP, such as lack of motivation and constraints on time due to work or extra-curricular activities. We did find, however, that teacher identification and academic self-efficacy mattered to AP course- and exam-taking, especially for marginalized students, suggesting viable policy and practice levers to improve equitable AP participation. We discuss implications for policy, practice, and research.
... We first used school characteristics data from 2015 to 2016 Common Core of Data (CCD) and 2013 to 2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) to restrict our sample to non-virtual, non-alternative high schools located in Michigan that offered at least one AP course; this yielded 191 high schools. We then used a maximum variation sampling approach (Palinkas et al., 2015) to purposively recruit along two school characteristics important to the provision of AP-representation of low-income students (i.e., FRL population) and AP course availability (Klugman, 2013;Kolluri, 2018Kolluri, , 2019Rodriguez & McGuire, 2019). We operationalized the representation of low-income students as the percent of FRL students and AP availability as the number of AP courses offered per 100 students. ...
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As part of their strategies to increase college readiness and reduce educational inequalities, at least 29 states subsidize Advanced Placement (AP) exam fees for low-income students. However, while Michigan’s state-level policy subsidized low-income student exams to $5 per exam, we found wide-ranging fee structures at high schools—from $0 to $50. Through a lens of policy implementation theory and using an embedded case study approach, this study examined this disjuncture between the state and school policies using interview data from 33 school personnel—counselors, AP Coordinators, administrators—in 31 high schools and state personnel in Michigan; state policy artifacts; and publicly available school data. We identified three major challenges—many schools hedged and set higher fees because they were unsure how much the legislature would approve each year; the state subsidy did not account for additional exam costs (e.g., exam proctors) that were passed down to the student; and the policy as written lacked enforceability and accountability. Policymakers were largely unaware of the amount schools ultimately charged low-income students. In the presence of an ambiguous policy and constrained resources, school personnel relied on their personal perspectives on fees and behavior (e.g., the need to reduce moral hazard and increase “skin in the game”) to rationalize low-income students fees. Together, these findings help explain how low-income students pay vastly different AP exam fees depending on the high school they attend in Michigan—with some schools severely impeding low-income students’ college preparatory opportunities.
... Once identified, school counselors can collaborate with various school stakeholders (e.g., parents, administrators, GT coordinators) to advocate for proper GT placement. In the general education setting, it is well known that inequities exist such as access to advanced coursework and disciplinary disparities (Barnes and Motz 2018;Klugman 2013). Thus, even within the cohort of students identified as gifted and talented, inequities may exist regarding the type, quality, and fidelity of services rendered, although scant contemporary research exists centered on inequities within GT programming. ...
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Rural school communities face an array of systemic barriers that often impact students’ college and career readiness (CCR). These barriers often extend to students identified as gifted and talented, a subsection with differing CCR readiness needs than their non-gifted peers. Despite these barriers, school counselors are well positioned to address the career development needs of all students. Regrettably, elementary-level CCR, particularly within the rural context, is often overlooked in educational research. In response to this gap, this article highlights strategies school counselors in rural settings can employ to support the CCR needs of elementary-level gifted learners, conceptualized within the framework of the American School Counselor Association National Model.
... This means that earlier course taking tendencies have implications for the likelihood of taking and succeeding in AP classes in high school (Kolluri, 2018;Shores et al., 2019). Similarly, because low-income students are less likely to have the same access to AP classes as their higher-income peers, they are less likely to be able to build the academic momentum needed to carry them into future rigorous coursework to prepare them for college (Klugman, 2013). • Belonging. ...
Article
Using both qualitative longitudinal data collected 20 years after the original Unequal Childhoods study and interview data from a study of upwardly mobile adults, this address demonstrates how cultural knowledge matters when white and African American young adults of differing class backgrounds navigate key institutions. I find that middle-class young adults had more knowledge than their working-class or poor counterparts of the “rules of the game” regarding how institutions worked. They also displayed more of a sense of entitlement to ask for help. When faced with a problem related to an institution, middle-class young adults frequently succeeded in getting their needs accommodated by the institution; working-class and poor young adults were less knowledgeable about and more frustrated by bureaucracies. This address also shows the crucial role of “cultural guides” who help upwardly mobile adults navigate institutions. While many studies of class reproduction have looked at key turning points, this address argues that “small moments” may be critical in setting the direction of life paths.
Article
This study asks whether growing access to academic credentials for students from disadvantaged groups will lead to a decrease in the value of those credentials for these groups in college enrollments. Drawing on credentialing theory and the concept of adaptive social closure, I argue that as certain academic credentials become democratized (i.e., more accessible to disadvantaged students), their value decreases for students from disadvantaged race and class groups at the same time as it increases for students from privileged race and class groups. To test this idea, I use data from two cohorts of American high school graduates to estimate changes in the educational payoff of participation in the Advanced Placement (AP) program for students across racial and social class groups. The results show that at the same time as students from disadvantaged groups gained wider access to the AP program, its effect on their rates of college enrollment declined. During the same time period, the AP effect on the rates of college enrollment for students from privileged groups increased. I conclude that unequal returns to academic credentials for privileged and disadvantaged students represent a hidden dimension of race and class inequality in American college enrollments. Moreover, the results demonstrate the possibility that as access to an academic credential democratizes, as is the case with the AP program, privileged groups are better able to insulate themselves from the negative effects of credential inflation.
Article
African American male students attending U.S. suburban schools remain severely underrepresented in Advanced Placement (AP) programs. A number of structural barriers, including racialized tracking policies; limited referrals from educators and school counselors; conventional AP practices centered on Eurocentric curricula, literature, and pedagogies; and educators’ deficit mindsets toward Black masculinity, mitigate African American male students’ access to and success in suburban AP classrooms. Despite these sobering realities, African American male students have achieved success in AP English Language Arts coursework. Yet few researchers have investigated the multiple and complex forms of support to which African American male students attribute their successful performance in AP English coursework in suburban high schools.
Article
I examine whether academic motivation and engagement—conditions that advocates consider mechanisms for the effect of dual enrollment—account for the relationship between dual enrollment and academic performance. Few studies examine the claimed mechanisms that account for the impact of dual enrollment, which leaves the processes through which dual enrollment influences a student’s college experience as a black box. Using data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, I find a positive direct effect of dual enrollment on first-year college GPA, which remains even after controlling for precollege variables. I further find students who participated in dual enrollment are more academically motivated and engaged than nonparticipants. Although dual enrolled students are more academically motivated and engaged in class than nonparticipants these indicators generally account for less than 20% of the effect of dual enrollment on academic performance. Finally, for some students (e.g., students who earned college credit through dual enrollment but not though examination), participation in dual enrollment exerts a stronger effect on first-year college GPA at midselective and very selective institutions than at highly selective institutions.
Article
Background Increasing access to Advanced Placement (AP) coursework has been a long-term goal of the College Board and many districts across the country, yet achieving this goal has remained elusive, particularly for African American and Latinx youth and youth in poverty. Purpose In this study, we analyze the work of five districts that have identified inequities in AP participation and developed initiatives to address these inequities. We examine these districts’ strategies, as well as their impact on both access to AP coursework and success on AP exams. We consider how efforts to increase access to AP have affected different racial/ethnic student groups. Participants The five districts are led by superintendents who were members of the Instructional Leaders Network (ILN), a statewide network that focuses on supporting superintendents’ system-wide, equity-focused improvement. The districts vary in demographics, size, and socioeconomic status. Data Collection and Analysis This mixed methods study includes five years of AP enrollment and performance data for four districts, and two years of data for one district. We also identified two of these districts as case studies of AP initiative development and implementation and conducted a series of interviews with administrators from the districts over the five years of the study. We analyzed quantitative data descriptively and used Bonilla-Silva's (2018) concept of color-blind racism to analyze these data in relation to the interview data. Findings All districts adopted strategies focused on students as a whole, which for the most part led to an increase in access for all racial/ethnic groups, but no consistent pattern of reducing over- or under-representation. In terms of outcomes, in some districts, more students received scores of 3 or higher from all racial/ethnic groups, but disparities in average test scores remained. Additionally, across all districts, Black students continued to receive the lowest scores. Conclusions As school districts, individual high schools, and the College Board continue their focus on increasing equity in both access and performance, their approaches need to involve ongoing data collection and evaluation on how different programs and initiatives are positively or negatively affecting student populations that have been traditionally under-served as well as students in general. This research demonstrates that color-neutral policies need to be constantly interrogated by K–12 administrators and other stakeholders to ensure that the policies do not reinforce and sustain existing inequities. If districts seek to target groups of students who are underserved, they need to consider strategies and policies that explicitly and directly address those groups.
Chapter
The analysis of the international position of the IB Diploma presented in the previous chapter invites more detailed, country-specific analyses. This chapter uses existing research to review the diffusion of the IB Diploma across high school credential markets internationally, focussing on its school and student recruitment, academic profile and association with international mobility. Research on the IB Diploma in North America, South America, Europe, East and Southeast Asia and Oceania is used to identify commonalities and contrasts between its position in different credential markets. The chapter reveals that the position of the IB Diploma in a given country is dependent on the education system features within which it becomes embedded. This complexifies attempts to reach general conclusions about the IB Diploma internationally. Nevertheless, academic and social discrimination appear to be consistently associated with the presence of the IB Diploma in high school certification markets. This finding is used to guide the credential-based and academic competition-focused theoretical lens adopted to examine the specific structures of the Australian high school credential market in the rest of the book.
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The Dream Is Over tells the extraordinary story of the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California, created by visionary University of California President Clark Kerr and his contemporaries. The Master Plan’s equality of opportunity policy brought college within reach of millions of American families for the first time and fashioned the world’s leading system of public research universities. The California idea became the leading model for higher education across the world and has had great influence in the rapid growth of universities in China and East Asia. Yet, remarkably, the political conditions supporting the California idea in California itself have evaporated. Universal access is faltering, public tuition is rising, the great research universities face new challenges, and educational participation in California, once the national leader, lags far behind. Can the social values embodied in Kerr’s vision be renewed?
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This empirical study analyzed data from 638 teachers and 11,800 students in low-socioeconomic status (SES) urban schools (and schools with urban characteristics) exploring associations of school, teacher, teaching, and professional development characteristics toward student performance on the revised Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and AP Chemistry examinations. The analyses indicated that districts per-student funding allocations, the days of instruction, teachers’ knowledge and experience, and some aspects of teachers’ professional development participation were significantly associated with student performance on AP science examinations that was better than predicted by students’ Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) scores.
Article
Schools can approach the task of sorting students to privileged learning opportunities in different ways, potentially creating distinct and durable educational inequality regimes. We test this idea by exploring variation in socioeconomic inequalities in advanced mathematics course-taking across California middle schools during a statewide algebra-for-all initiative. This case provides unique insight into local stratification processes since the state pressured schools to boost advanced course enrollments but provided little guidance about how to do so. We distinguish two critical organizational processes: the provision of different types of opportunities and the allocation of students to opportunities. The former, we argue, creates the potential for inequality; the latter determines what level of inequality is realized. Using panel data for all public middle schools in the state over a decade, we demonstrate a curvilinear association between opportunities and inequality, with disparities highest when opportunities are most differentiated. However, allocations at most schools were less unequal than would be expected under a test-based meritocratic allocation regime. Further, we find substantial school-level variation which is systematically related to organizational characteristics and consistent over time. These patterns provide evidence for local educational inequality regimes.
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Background: Many students enter into postsecondary education without the preparation to face the demands of postsecondary coursework in science. Increasingly, policymakers and educational researchers are responding to calls for reforming secondary education to provide more opportunity for all students to receive high-quality education and to become career and college ready. Purpose: This study attempts to identify levers to increase student learning in secondary education. In particular, it examines relationships between school, teaching, teacher, and teacher professional development characteristics and student scores on high-stakes Advanced Placement (AP) examinations in the sciences. Setting: This study is situated in the context of the large-scale, top-down, nationwide AP curriculum and examination reform in the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) in the United States. This is an unprecedented opportunity to analyze changing educational landscapes in the United States with large-scale national student-, teacher-, school-, and district-level datasets across multiple science disciplines and different stages of the curriculum reform implementation connected to a standardized and high-stakes student outcome measure. Population: This study analyzes nationwide data samples of the AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics population during the first, second, and third year of the curriculum reform implementation. Across disciplines and years, the analytical samples include a total of 113,603 students and 6,046 teachers. Research design: This empirical quantitative study uses data from web-based surveys sent to all AP science teachers. Additionally, the College Board provided student- and school-level data for all students taking AP examinations. Data preparation methods included exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Associations with student achievement were analyzed through a multilevel ordered logistic regression analysis, separately by science discipline and year of the curriculum reform implementation. Afterwards, results were aggregated through a meta-analysis. Findings: Even after controlling for student background variables, roughly 60% of the AP score variance could be explained at the teacher and school levels. In particular, teachers’ perceived administrative support, self-efficacy, teaching experience, and elements of classroom instruction were related to student performance. Notably, teachers’ professional development participation—which has been a major focus of interventions—has a small, mixed impact on student achievement. Conclusion: The identified levers for improving student achievement provide a strong rationale for the continued efforts of policymakers to improve school environments and to support science teachers, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning to help all students to be prepared for college and ready for their future careers.
Article
Advanced placement (AP) and concurrent enrollment (CE) provide high school students with rigorous coursework and possible college credit. Theoretical modeling predicted students would substitute CE for AP courses conditional on their probability of earning university credit, passing AP tests, and college selectivity despite CE costing more than AP. In the current study, CE costs to families drop to zero and students should be expected to maximize substitution. This study uses multiple years of school-level data from Colorado, a state with a growing CE sector to test substitution effects. Using a school fixed-effect Poisson regression of the most commonly taken AP exams, results indicate limited evidence of widespread substitution. The continued preference for AP may increase costs to families and reduce potential college credits.
Article
Many have called for improved alignment between high school graduation and college admission requirements. However, few have empirically examined the extent to which courses needed for college admission are not offered by high schools, which I call underalignment. Using high school-level data from the Office for Civil Rights, I examined high school math underalignment relative to public flagships’ published minimum math requirements. Overall, 2.2% of public high schools did not offer the math course required for admission by their respective state flagship. Because minimum requirements may not reflect competitive admission processes such as those found at selective flagships or for intended science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors, I estimated 2 additional benchmarks: the probable math requirement based on the flagship’s selectivity and the highest math course most commonly taken by entering STEM majors. When considering probable and STEM math benchmarks, underalignment was higher—6.9% and 29.0% of high schools, respectively. Findings from logistic regression analysis show low-income student-of-color high schools have a higher probability of underalignment compared with most other high school types, net of school characteristics and state-level fixed effects across all three benchmarks. Policy implications for improving alignment and equity are discussed.
Article
I examine whether academic motivation and engagement—-conditions that advocates consider mechanisms for the effect of dual enrollment—-account for the relationship between dual enrollment and academic performance. Few studies examine the claimed mechanisms that account for the impact of dual enrollment, which leaves the processes through which dual enrollment influences a student's college experience as a black box. Using data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, I find a positive direct effect of dual enrollment on first-year college GPA, which remains even after controlling for precollege variables. I further find students who participated in dual enrollment are more academically motivated and engaged than nonparticipants. Although dual enrolled students are more academically motivated and engaged in class than nonparticipants these indicators generally account for less than 20% of the effect of dual enrollment on academic performance. Finally, for some students (e.g., students who earned college credit through dual enrollment but not though examination), participation in dual enrollment exerts a stronger effect on first-year college GPA at midselective and very selective institutions than at highly selective institutions.
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Most U.S. universities have made explicit commitments to educating economically diverse student bodies; however, the higher education system is highly stratified. In this paper, we seek to understand stratification in the wake of the Great Recession by examining enrollment among students from differing income backgrounds by institutional type. Two theoretical frameworks suggest different conclusions. A Disaster Capitalism framework suggests that in places where the recession was most severe, enrollment by income would become more stratified than in places where the downturn was less severe. In contrast, Effectively Maintained Inequality would suggest that enrollments were already effectively stratified by income and would not necessarily be sensitive to exposure to an economic shock. Employing fixed effects modeling and novel data based on the tax records of 30 million Americans, we examine income composition by institutional type from 2004 to 2012. We find that although stratification by institutional type worsened during the recession and subsequent recovery, patterns of economic stratification were not more intense for institutions that enrolled students from states hardest hit by the recession. We conclude that these patterns are consistent with an Effectively Maintained Inequality framework. During the recession, the top quintiles continued to enjoy their longstanding disproportionate enrollment in the most selective institutions. For the bottom quintiles, the longstanding marginalization from 4-year college going persisted through the recession. These stratification patterns, however, were not more pronounced in places hardest hit by the recession.
Article
This study assesses the excellence gap by examining those who enroll in advanced, honors, and advanced placement (AP) classes among a low-income and a majority-Latinx population. Prospective longitudinal data come from a diverse, urban sample ( N = 32,885) where 82.2% of the students received free or reduced price lunch. We examined numerous predictors (i.e., demographics, school readiness skills, prior academic competence) for eventual enrollment in an advanced course (middle school advanced, honors in middle and high school, and AP courses in high school) via multivariate logistic regression analyses. Results suggest that demographic factors (socioeconomic status, ethnicity, English-language learner status) often played a smaller role in advanced course enrollment after controlling for school-entry skills and prior academic competence with the exception of AP courses, where demographic effects persisted. Implications include targeted early intervention to get qualified students in poverty enrolled in academically advanced courses.
Chapter
In this chapter, the researcher discusses a study from the United States in which the subjective nature of criteria used for advanced course selection by middle school administrators and core content teachers is evaluated. The use of arbitrary factors by educators in decisions related to moving students into advanced courses disproportionately excludes African American students and other marginalized student groups from upper level course-taking opportunities when compared to Caucasian students. The unequal access for African American students to enter advanced courses limits the operational citizenship of these students and increases opportunity gaps, attainment gaps, and achievement gaps within public education systems. In order to narrow the distance between Caucasian students' opportunities and achievement and those of African American students, middle school educators must commit to eliminating the use of subjective criteria in all course placement decisions.
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By matching International Baccalaureate (IB) and non-IB U.S. public schools based on state, grade span, and enrollment, we used recent public data to confirm relations among a hierarchy of school characteristics and whether schools made available any of IB’s four programs. We fortified prior claims regarding how poverty, minority concentration, and geographic locale as a function of proximity to cities relate to IB availability, a proxy for opportunity to learn international-mindedness. Our proximity approach to data from public schools and a descriptive look at data from private schools highlighted the unique importance of proximity to cities in identifying where IB opportunities do and do not exist. We conclude by specifying recommendations for decision-makers who might need resources to make IB implementation viable or to win local hearts and minds before doing so.
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The rise in college preparatory coursework across American high schools appears not to affect college enrollment and graduation rates. This study uses the Civil Rights Data Collection to evaluate three stages along the college preparatory pipeline: access to, enrollment in, and mastery of Advanced Placement® and International Baccalaureate® coursework to understand the cumulative academic opportunities shaping students’ college readiness. Leaks in the pipeline divert out historically marginalized students. An adaptation of the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index captures the magnitude of these racial and ethnic disparities. Social context explains where school and district resources alleviate disparities to provide more equitable (i.e., proportionally representative) academic opportunities. These findings offer substantive direction to improve equality in students’ college readiness opportunities.
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The Dream Is Over tells the extraordinary story of the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California, created by visionary University of California President Clark Kerr and his contemporaries. The Master Plan's equality of opportunity policy brought college within reach of millions of American families for the first time and fashioned the world's leading system of public research universities. The California idea became the leading model for higher education across the world and has had great influence in the rapid growth of universities in China and East Asia. Yet, remarkably, the political conditions supporting the California idea in California itself have evaporated. Universal access is faltering, public tuition is rising, the great research universities face new challenges, and educational participation in California, once the national leader, lags far behind. Can the social values embodied in Kerr's vision be renewed?
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Structural changes necessary in detracking efforts challenge not only the technical dimensions of schooling, but also the normative and political dimensions. We argue that detracking reform confronts fundamental issues of power, control, and legitimacy that are played out in ideological struggles over the meaning of knowledge, intelligence, ability, and merit. This article presents results from a three-year longitudinal case study of ten racially and socioeconomically mixed secondary schools participating in detracking reform. We connect prevailing norms about race and social class that inform educators', parents', and students' conceptions of intelligence, ability, and giftedness with the local political context of detracking. By examining these ideological aspects of detracking we make a case for reexamining common presumptions that resistance to policies providing greater opportunities to low-income and minority children is driven by rational estimates of the learning costs and benefits associated with such reforms.
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The Advanced Placement Program is growing at a striking rate in US high schools and at the same time being abandoned by high‐status schools. This paper explores the history of the Advanced Placement Program, from its roots in the 1950s as a programme for challenging high‐achieving students at high‐status schools, through its equity‐motivated expansion in the latter decades of the 20 century, up to the present as it faces threats to its credibility and prestige. In so doing, it also explores the difficulty of combating inequality with school reform, particularly in light of continuing moves by privileged groups to gain a measure of distinction. In the case of the Advanced Placement Program, a greater push for equity has, ironically, incited a reaction that may, in the end, result in greater inequity.
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This paper uses rich new data on New York State teachers to: determine how much variation in the average attributes of teachers exists across schools, identify schools that have the least-qualified teachers, assess whether the distribution has changed over time, and determine how the distribution of teachers is impacted by attrition and transfer, as well as by the job matches between teachers and schools at the start of careers. Our results show striking differences in the qualifications of teachers across schools. Urban schools, in particular, have lesser-qualified teachers; and New York City stands out among urban areas. Low-income, low-achieving and non-white students, particularly those in urban areas, find themselves in classes with many of the least skilled teachers. Salary variation rarely compensates for the apparent difficulties of teaching in urban settings and, in some cases, contributes to the disparities.
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In this article, the authors test a “frog-pond” model of elite college admission proposed by Attewell, operationalizing high school academic context as the secondary school-average SAT score and number of Advanced Placement tests per high school senior. Data on more than 45,000 applications to three elite universities show that a high school's academic environment has a negative effect on college admission, controlling for individual students' scholastic ability. A given applicant's chances of being accepted are reduced if he or she comes from a high school with relatively more highly talented students, that is, if the applicant is a small frog in a big pond. Direct evidence on high school class rank produces similar findings. A school's reputation or prestige has a counterbalancing positive effect on college admission. Institutional gatekeepers are susceptible to context effects, but the influence of school variables is small relative to the characteristics of individual students. The authors tie the findings to prior work on meritocracy in college admission and to the role played by elite education in promoting opportunity or reproducing inequality, and they speculate on the applicability of frog-pond models in areas beyond elite college admission.
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Students living in inner city and rural areas of the United States exhibit lower educational achievement and a higher likelihood of dropping out of high school than do their suburban counterparts. Educational research and policy has tended to neglect these inequalities or, at best, focus on one type but not the other. In this article, we integrate literatures on spatial stratification and educational outcomes, and offer a framework in which resources influential for achievement/attainment are viewed as embedded within, and varying across, inner city, rural and suburban places. We draw from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey and the Common Core of Data, and employ hierarchical linear and hierarchical logistic modeling techniques to test our arguments. Results reveal inner city and rural disadvantages in both family and school resources. These resource inequalities translate into important educational investments at both family and school levels, and help explain deficits in attainment and standardized achievement. We conclude by discussing the implications of our approach and findings for analyses of educational stratification specifically and spatial patterning of inequality more generally.
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The College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) Program, which allows students to take college-level courses while in high school, enjoyed tremendous growth in the 1990s. Despite overall growth, small rural schools and high poverty schools continue to offer relatively few AP courses, and black, Hispanic, and low income students remain grossly underrepresented in AP classes. During the 1990s, AP incentive programs primarily subsidized test fees for low income students, but this provided no incentive for low income and rural schools to expand their AP course offerings and did nothing to strengthen the weak academic preparation of low income, black and Hispanic students. Recent federal funding changes provide a step in the right direction by supporting a comprehensive approach to increasing the AP access and participation of traditionally underserved students. (Contains 5 tables and 11 footnotes.)
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The paper examines the hypothesis that the opportunities that the expansion and diversification of higher education open to members of disadvantaged groups depend on field of study. The study is based on a survey conducted in 1999 on a sample of 4061 Israeli freshmen in the research universities and the academic colleges, which are often perceived as the second tier of higher education. Using multinomial logistic regression we compared socio-demographic characteristics and academic ability of university and college students within seven major fields of study. The main findings are as follows: The colleges increase the relative odds of disadvantaged groups of studying less selective fields, or selective fields that get different curricula and academic degrees at the colleges. College and university students who study the selective fields where both institutional types offer equivalent programmes carry a similar social profile. Control for academic ability does not change that pattern. We conclude that the expansion of higher education in Israel reduces inequality in enrolment mainly in the fields that carry limited social advantages. Our findings are consistent with Lucas’s (2001) claim that privileged groups look for qualitative advantages in differentiated educational systems.
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Conventional political wisdom has it that educational expansion helps to reduce socioeconomic inequalities of access to education by increasing equality of educational opportunity. The counterarguments of Maximally Maintained Inequality (MMI) and Effectively Maintained Inequality (EMI), in contrast, contend that educational inequalities tend to persist despite expansion because those from more advantaged social class backgrounds are better placed to take up the new educational opportunities that expansion affords (MMI) and to secure for themselves qualitatively better kinds of education at any given level (EMI). This paper sets out to test the predictions of the MMI and EMI hypotheses against empirical data for the case of Britain where higher education expanded dramatically during the 1960s and again during the early 1990s. The results show that quantitative inequalities between social classes in the odds of higher education enrolment proved remarkably persistent for much of the period between 1960 and 1995, and began to decline only during the early 1990s, after the enrolment rate for the most advantaged social class had reached saturation point. Throughout this same 35year period, qualitative inequalities between social classes in the odds of enrolment on more traditional and higher status degree programmes and at ‘Old’ universities remained fundamentally unchanged. In short, social class inequalities in British higher education have been both maximally and effectively maintained. KeywordsHigher education–Expansion–Differentiation–Social class–Maximally and effectively maintained inequality–Britain
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This study examines the role of Advanced Placement (AP) and other honors-level courses as a criterion for admission at a leading public university, the University of California, and finds that the number of AP and honors courses taken in high school bears little or no relationship to students’ later performance in college. AP is increasingly emphasized as a factor in admissions, particularly at selective colleges and universities. But while student performance on AP examinations is strongly related to college performance, merely taking AP or other honors-level courses in high school is not a valid indicator of the likelihood that students will perform well in college. These findings suggest that institutions may need to reconsider the use of AP as a criterion in “high stakes†admissions, particularly given the marked disparity in access to AP and honors courses among disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students.
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This study develops a comprehensive theoretical framework regarding the evolution of the class divide in postsecondary education. I conceptualize three prototypes of class inequality-effectively maintained, declining, and expanding-and associate their emergence with the level of competition in college admissions. I also unearth the twin mechanisms, exclusion and adaptation, that link class hierarchy to a highly stratified postsecondary system in an allegedly meritocratic environment. Intra- and inter-cohort comparisons reveal that while the class divide regarding enrollment and access to selective postsecondary schooling is ubiquitous, it declines when competition for slots in higher education is low and expands during periods of high competition. In such a regime of effectively expanding inequality (EEI), a greater emphasis on a certain selection criterion (like test scores) in admission decisions-required to sort the influx of applicants-is bolstered by class-based polarization vis-a-vis this particular criterion. This vicious cycle of exclusion and adaptation intensifies and expedites the escalation of class inequality. The results show that adaptation is more effective than exclusion in expanding class inequality in US. higher education.
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Background/Context This article describes neotracking, a new form of tracking in North Carolina that is the outgrowth of the state's reformed curricular standards, the High School Courses of Study Framework (COS). Neotracking combines older versions of rigid, comprehensive tracking with the newer, more flexible within-subject area curricular differentiation to form an overarching, multilevel framework for high school curricula. The Course of Study Framework requires 8th graders to select one of three Courses of Study prior to entering high school: Career Preparation, College/Tech Preparation, or College/University Preparation. Exceptional children are enrolled in Occupations, a fourth COS. The COS reform was instituted, in part, to facilitate reaching North Carolina's twin goals of equity and excellence for all students. Purpose The purposes of this article are to investigate if neotracking facilitates or hinders reaching these goals; if there is a relationship between district and school demographics, students’ racial backgrounds and their COS assignments; and if between- and within-school variations in COS placements result in greater or less race and social class stratification in opportunities to learn. Research Design Using aggregate data on COS enrollments among Class of 2005 high school seniors in the entire state of North Carolina and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), we evaluate COS enrollment patterns by student, school, and school system characteristics. Findings Results indicate that although a majority of students across North Carolina enroll in the College/University Prep COS, the variations in enrollment reflect the race, ethnic, and social class stratification in North Carolina. Students in affluent NC school districts are significantly more likely to enroll in the top COS than those living in less affluent school districts. COS enrollments vary by students’ race and ethnicity, too. Likewise, COS enrollments are related to the racial composition of a high school's student body. Conclusions Neotracking tends to reproduce race and social class stratification of opportunities to learn, resulting in the worst of both worlds: the majority of North Carolina's high school graduates may not be prepared either for higher education or for the workplace—one of the very problems that the accountability movement and the NC Course of Study program was intended to address.
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Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities (1991) is a searing indictment of the American system of public education. It paints a bleak picture of inner-city students struggling in overcrowded classrooms and dilapidated buildings. Kozol compares these children to suburban students at well-funded schools with large campuses, modern scientific equipment, and highly paid and well-trained faculty. While inner-city students, Kozol tells us, are often fortunate to graduate from high school, students from suburban schools are not asked if they will attend college, but where. These extremes, according to Kozol, are a result of the decentralized structure of education in the United States. As we show later in this chapter, the federal government provides only 7 percent of all of the funds devoted to K-12 education. The states and the nearly sixteen thousand school districts each provide roughly one-half of the rest. Local districts rely heavily on the property tax, a cornerstone of the U.S. education system. Kozol argues persuasively that funding local schools through local property taxes is inherently unfair because large disparities in tax bases across school districts lead inevitably to large differences in spending. In this chapter, we focus on many of the issues that are central to Kozol's work and present four main results. First, we show that while significant inequality remains, we have in fact made a great deal of progress in reducing some of the glaring disparities Kozol described in 1991. Depending on how we measure inequality in school spending, we find that inequality fell by 20 to 35 percent between 1972 and 1997. Second, we show that the states have played an essential role in reducing inequality in school spending. The states have assumed much greater responsibility for funding schools, and we show that state aid for schools effectively offsets some of the differences in local spending. Third, we argue that the courts have also played an important role in reducing inequality in school spending. A long string of court cases, beginning with Serrano v. Priest in 1971, have challenged the constitutionality of local funding of public schools. Opponents of local funding for primary and secondary schools have now brought cases in forty-three states. In this chapter, we argue that court-mandated education-finance reform often achieves its main objective. Court-ordered reform reduced inequality by raising district spending at the bottom of the distribution while leaving spending at the top unchanged. Fourth, we argue that while the gap in spending between rich and poor schools has shrunk, important differences in certain education inputs persist. We show, for example, that the qualifications of teachers, access to computers, and class size vary systematically across socioeconomic groups. In the second and third sections of the chapter, we look at the changing distribution of education spending. This focus on dollars makes sense in many ways. Dollars have been the measuring rod of education inequality during much of the long debate over education opportunity. As we show in the third section, for example, differences in spending across school districts were the key issue in Serrano and much of the subsequent litigation. This focus on dollars, however, is in some ways limited; the debate over inequality in education is also a debate over the distribution of the education resources those dollars can purchase. In the last section, we summarize what is known about the distribution of teacher characteristics, technology in the classroom, and the physical condition of schools.
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This article proposes a general explanation for social background‐related inequality. Educational attainment research indicates that the later an education transition, the lower the social background effect. While some suggest life course changes in the parent‐child relationship or between‐family competition explain this pattern, others contend the result is a statistical artifact, and that the analytic strategy presupposes agents are irrationally myopic. This article addresses these criticisms by framing educational transitions in terms of students' movement through the stratified curriculum. Students select their stratum, one of which is dropping out. To make these choices, they consider their most recent salient performance. Using time‐varying performance measures to predict students' track placement/school continuation sustains the validity of the educational transitions approach and suggests substantively important social background effects even for nearly universal transitions. Results are consistent with the general perspective termed effectively maintained inequality.
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The constitutionality of public school finance systems has been challenged in 43 states in the 25 years since the landmark Serrano decision. Using data on revenues from more than 16,000 school districts over the 1972-1992 period, this article assesses the impact of court-mandated reform on the role of the states in school finance. We find that resources from the state increased while revenues from local districts were roughly unchanged after successful litigation. States also followed a more aggressive redistribution policy in the aftermath of court-mandated reform; after successful litigation, state aid to the poorest districts increased and aid to the wealthiest districts remained unchanged. Finally, we find that reforms that were initiated by the states without judicial prodding were typically ineffective.
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In this article, Amy Stuart Wells and Irene Serna examine the political struggles associated with detracking reform. Drawing on their three-year study of ten racially and socioeconomically mixed schools that are implementing detracking reform, the authors take us beyond, the school walls to better understand the broad social forces that influence detracking reform. They focus specifically on the role of elite parents and how their political and cultural capital enables them to influence and resist efforts to dismantle or lessen tracking in their children's schools. Wells and Serna identify four strategies employed by elite parents to undermine and co-opt reform initiatives designed to alter existing tracking structures. By framing elite parents' actions within the literature on elites and cultural capital, the authors provide a deeper understanding of the barriers educators face in their efforts to detrack schools.
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Interviews with a random sample of 86 mothers in two suburban communities revealed that the high correlation between parents' education levels and their children's placement in the mathematics tracking system as they enter middle and junior high school can be explained, in part, by the propensity of college-educated parents to be knowledgeable about their children's placement, to be integrated into school affairs and parental information networks, to intervene in educational decisions that school personnel make for their children, and to exert an influence over their children's preferences for courses. The involvement of highly educated parents in their children's placement at critical decision points in the tracking system is one mechanism by which educational advantage is transmitted from one generation to the next.
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In this study of course offerings in mathematics and science and placement procedures in six high schools, three high schools that were identified as "excellent" through regression analyses were matched with "average" schools, with one pair each in upper-, middle-, and working-class districts. The study found differences in course patterns available to students and the procedures used to assign students to classes. Excellent schools and districts that were higher in social class offered more college-preparatory and advanced courses. Also, the process by which students in these schools and districts were placed in classes was more systematic; it included broader assessments of students' abilities and involved faculty and guidance counselors more actively. It is note-worthy that although the social class of the community was related to the structure of schools, the structure of counseling activities and the courses offered differed among schools in the same social-class communities.
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The study of tracking patterns in secondary schools is central to understanding the educational attainment process. In this paper I offer a conceptual framework for evaluating school tracking patterns as meritocratic, arbitrary, exclusive, or inclusive. Tracking patterns are hypothesized to emerge under different organizational contingencies. In particular, the type of structural constraints, the information flow within the school, and the cultural milieu evident among the staff are thought to affect the likelihood that one type of tracking pattern would emerge rather than another. A preliminary analysis suggests that student demand for a given track, which is a structural constraint, affects the degree to which exclusive tracking occurs. Social networks among students and teachers as well as teacher control over grouping policy are found to affect the likelihood of inclusive or exclusive tracking patterns, and the cultural milieu of the staff affects the degree to which exclusive or inclusive tracking occurs. No clear evidence for a press toward arbitrary tracking is observed.
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In contrast to past findings of persistent social status in suburbs, this study of 52 metropolitan regions during 1960-1970 reveals considerable differentiation and flux. We find variations between metropolitan regions in the direction and extent of change in inequality between suburbs. Inequality tended to increase in the 1960s in metropolitan regions with a highly fragmented local governmental structure and to decline in regions with fast-growing populations, especially those which experienced substantial suburbanization of employment. -AuthorsDept of Sociology, SUNY, Albany, NY 12222, USA.
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This article examines the factors that determine a high school’s probability of offering Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. The likelihood that a school offers advanced courses, and the number of sections that it offers, is largely driven by having a critical mass of students who enter high school with eighth-grade test scores that are far above average. The number and qualifications of the instructional staff, in contrast, play a very small role. The results suggest that the willingness of schools to offer advanced courses is driven by real, perceived, or created student demand and that there may be few resource constraints that prevent schools from supplying advanced courses.
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In this analysis, the authors explore the relationship between the social context of high schools and school-to-school variation in tracking policies. The authors consider three explanations for the implementation of highly elaborated tracking systems: opportunity hoarding, status competition, and a technical-functional explanation. Building on the research methodology developed by Kelly, they conducted a content analysis of curriculum guides in a sample of 128 high schools to identify school tracking policies. They find that compositional variables related to technical-functional concerns, and to a lesser extent, status competition, are associated with highly elaborated school tracking policies.
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Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, this study investigated differences in the mathematics course taking of white and black students. Because of lower levels of achievement, prior course taking, and lower socioeconomic status, black students are much more likely than are white students to be enrolled in low-track mathematics courses by the 10th grade. Using multilevel models for categorical outcomes, the study found that the black-white gap in mathematics course taking is the greatest in integrated schools where black students are in the minority and cannot be entirely accounted for by individual-level differences in the course-taking qualifications or family backgrounds of white and black students. This finding was obscured in prior research by the failure to model course taking adequately between and within schools. Course placement policies and enrollment patterns should be monitored to ensure effective schooling for all students.
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Both the research literature and the experiences of many educators indicate that unequal access to academic curricula produces inequities in student learning of mathematics. "Algebra for everyone" has become a popular slogan of reform in response to these inequalities. Do all students benefit from taking algebra, regardless of their prior math performance? If so, then systems that track students away from algebra are preventing students from realizing their potential for learning. This study uses national survey data to examine the impact of high school algebra among students who differ in their math skills prior to entering high school. Regression analysis with over 12,500 students indicates that all students benefit from taking algebra; among those with very low prior achievement, the benefits are somewhat smaller, but algebra is still worthwhile for all students. These results do not derive from unwarranted extrapolation, and they are not an artifact of ceiling effects. The analysis suggests that a given student who has not taken algebra would have achieved more by doing so, but it does not say what would happen if the whole system were changed to include all students in high school algebra. However, additional analysis indicates that students gain no less from algebra when their schools include more diverse populations of algebra-takers, compared to schools with more homogeneous populations of students taking algebra.
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This article considers social and ethnic inequality in access to resources for mathematics learning in eighth grade: favorable school disciplinary climate, advanced course offerings, teacher subject-matter preparation, and emphasis on reasoning during classroom discourse. Data are from 41 states and territories1 participating in the 1992 Trial State Assessment (TSA) of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Socially advantaged students typically had greater access to these resources than did socially disadvantaged students. Access also depended on student ethnicity. However, the degree of social and ethnic inequality in access varied significantly across states. New methods for assessing and displaying state-to-state variation in social and ethnic inequality are illustrated. We argue that "report cards" displaying state differences in student proficiency are, by themselves, misleading; state differences in access to key educational resources provide an important supplement.
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The increasing concentration of wealthy students at highly selective colleges is widely perceived, but few analyses examine the underlying dynamics of higher education stratification over time. To examine these dynamics, the authors build an analysis data set of four cohorts from 1972 to 2004. They find that low-income students have made substantial gains in their academic course achievements since the 1970s. Nonetheless, wealthier students have made even stronger gains in achievement over the same period, in both courses and test scores, ensuring a competitive advantage in the market for selective college admissions. Thus, even if low-income students were “perfectly matched” to institutions consistent with their academic achievements, the stratification order would remain largely unchanged. The authors consider organizational and policy interventions that may reverse these trends.
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Research has consistently shown that teacher quality is distributed very unevenly among schools, to the clear disadvantage of minority students and those from low-income families. Using North Carolina data on the length of time individual teachers remain in their schools, we examine the potential for using salary differentials to overcome this pattern. We conclude that salary differentials are a far less effective tool for retaining teachers with strong preservice qualifications than for retaining other teachers in schools with high proportions of minority students. Consequently large salary differences would be needed to level the playing field when schools are segregated. This conclusion reflects our finding that teachers with stronger qualifications are both more responsive to the racial and socioeconomic mix of a school's students and less responsive to salary than are their less-qualified counterparts when making decisions about remaining in their current school, moving to another school or district, or leaving the teaching profession. © 2011 Association for Education Finance and Policy
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fax: (508) 793–3088; email: lkillgor@holycross.edu. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The author thanks Edward H. Thompson Jr. for the invaluable advice and support that made,this paper possible. Elite colleges are also referred to as “selective.” Although there are sufficient numbers,of positions available for college-degree seekers in higher education overall, selectivity matters in this argument,because only those colleges that receive more applications than they can accept have the luxury of choosing some student characteristics over others and of demand- ing a level of merit commensurate with the school’s level of selectivity. For the class of 2011, the applicant-admissions rate ranged from 9% to 20% for Ivy League schools. Retrieved on July 11, 2007, from http://ivysuccess.com/admission_stats_2011.html. 470 ,T he R eview of h ighe R e duca T ion S ummer 2009 characteristics to which they give preference for acceptance. The relative scarcity of first-year seats available at elite colleges empowers,these colleges to “define” their student body according to criteria other than merit. This
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This paper utilizes data from U.S. districts that participated in the 1999 TIMSS-R study to explore the consequences of variation in opportunities to learn specific mathematics content. Analyses explore the relationship between classroom coverage of specific mathematics content and student achievement as measured by the TIMSS-R international mathematics scaled score. District level SES indicators demonstrated significant relationships with both the dependent variable of interest: mathematics achievement, and the classroom level measure of content coverage. A 3-level hierarchical linear model demonstrated a significant effect of classroom content coverage on student achievement while controlling for student background at the student level and SES at all three levels documenting significant differences in mathematics learning opportunities as a function of the U.S. education system structure.
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By examining two suburban high schools (one in a wealthy White community and the other in a racially mixed working class community), explores the ways schools integrate adolescents into the economic system through a structured correspondence between the social relations of the school and those of production. (Author/GC)
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Analysis by researchers of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI) on Advanced Placement (AP) courses in California public high schools in the mid-1990s concluded that although high school AP programs offered talented youngsters the opportunity to stretch their mental horizons and preview the challenges of college-level coursework, the programs were not available to all students in the state of California. The findings of this report indicate that access to AP courses remains an unlikely opportunity for Black and Latino students and many low-income/rural students regardless of ethnicity and that AP courses continue to be an inequitable sorting mechanism that limits some groups' college preparation opportunities. Policy recommendations include: (1) Better communication with students and parents about the role AP courses play in determining post-secondary education options; (2) State funding to increase AP courses at schools that have disproportionately lower AP class offerings should be considered; (3) Consideration of compulsory minimum number of AP courses available at every school of similar size enrollment; (4) Amelioration of the disadvantages of rural and small schools by increasing the number of AP courses that can be completed online and decreasing the costs associated with this class format and by collaborating with centrally located college campuses to offer AP courses to students whose schools may not offer them; (5) Reassessment by higher education institutions of how AP courses are incorporated into calculation of GPA and overall admissions review; and (6) Annual publication of AP courses offered by all state public high schools. Further research is recommended to investigate the actual number of classes offered for each AP course and the number of students actually taking AP classes to reveal racial disparities in who is enrolled in the AP classes at the school level, and to examine the distribution of AP course subjects across schools. (Contains 4 endnotes and 12 tables.)
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In 2002-2003, 1 million students participated in AP by taking at least one exam. Five years later, nearly 1.6 million did--a 50+ percent increase. But is growth all good? Might there be a downside? Are ill prepared students eroding the quality of the program? Perhaps harming the best and brightest? To find out, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute commissioned the Farkas Duffett Research Group to survey AP teachers in public high schools across the country. Perhaps not surprisingly, the AP program remains very popular with its teachers. But there are signs that the move toward "open door" access to AP is starting to cause concern. (A foreword is provided by Chester E. Finn, Jr., and Arthur M. Winkler. Two appendixes are included: (1) Methodology; and (2) Complete Survey Results. Contains 14 footnotes and 1 table.)
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The constitutionality of public school finance systems has been challenged in 43 states in the 25 years since the landmark Serranodecision. Using data on revenues from more than 16,000 school districts over the 1972-1992 period, this article assesses the impact of court-mandated reform on the role of the states in school finance. We find that resources from the state increased while revenues from local districts were roughly unchanged after successful litigation. States also followed a more aggressive redistribution policy in the aftermath of court-mandated reform; after successful litigation, state aid to the poorest districts increased and aid to the wealthiest districts remained unchanged. Finally, we find that reforms that were initiated by the states without judicial prodding were typically ineffective.
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Over the past few decades, the average college has not become more selective: the reverse is true, though not dramatically. People who believe that college selectivity is increasing may be extrapolating from the experience of a small number of colleges such as members of the Ivy League, Stanford, Duke, and so on. These colleges have experienced rising selectivity, but their experience turns out to be the exception rather than the rule. Only the top 10 percent of colleges are substantially more selective now than they were in 1962. Moreover, at least 50 percent of colleges are substantially less selective now than they were in 1962. To understand changing selectivity, we must focus on how the market for college education has re-sorted students among schools as the costs of distance and information have fallen. In the past, students' choices were very sensitive to the distance of a college from their home, but today, students, especially high-aptitude students, are far more sensitive to a college's resources and student body. It is the consequent re-sorting of students among colleges that has, at once, caused selectivity to rise in a small number of colleges while simultaneously causing it to fall in other colleges. This has had profound implications for colleges' resources, tuition, and subsidies for students. I demonstrate that the stakes associated with choosing a college are greater today than they were four decades ago because very selective colleges are offering very large per-student resources and per-student subsidies, enabling admitted students to make massive human capital investments.
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The present study is organized around the central hypothesis that the high school context affects students’ postsecondary outcomes. Drawing on a nationally representative sample of high school seniors from the Educational Longitudinal Survey (ELS:2002), this study broadens our empirical understanding of how students’ acquisition of human, social, and cultural capital at the individual and school level affects 2- and 4-year college attendance. Results highlight the normative role of high schools in promoting college enrollment, particularly the role of socioeconomics, academic preparation, and access to parent, peer, and college-linking networks. This study advances our understanding of the secondary-postsecondary nexus and has implications for policies and practices aimed at realizing the current administration’s promise of providing greater access to postsecondary education for all students.
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While the distribution of resources across school districts is well studied, relatively little attention has been paid to how resources are allocated to individual schools inside those districts. This paper explores the determinants of resource allocation across schools in large districts based on factors that reflect differential school costs or factors that may, in practice, be related to the distribution of resources. Using detailed data on school resources and student and school characteristics in New York City, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, we find that schools with higher percentages of poor pupils often receive more money and have more teachers per pupil, but the teachers tend to be less educated and less well paid, with a particularly consistent pattern in New York City schools. We conclude with implications for policy and further research.
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This article proposes a general explanation for social background‐related inequality. Educational attainment research indicates that the later an education transition, the lower the social background effect. While some suggest life course changes in the parent‐child relationship or between‐family competition explain this pattern, others contend the result is a statistical artifact, and that the analytic strategy presupposes agents are irrationally myopic. This article addresses these criticisms by framing educational transitions in terms of students' movement through the stratified curriculum. Students select their stratum, one of which is dropping out. To make these choices, they consider their most recent salient performance. Using time‐varying performance measures to predict students' track placement/school continuation sustains the validity of the educational transitions approach and suggests substantively important social background effects even for nearly universal transitions. Results are consistent with the general perspective termed effectively maintained inequality.
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Analysis of the National Education Longitudinal Study revealed that socioeconomically advantaged students persist in high school math at higher rates than their disadvantaged peers, even when they have the same initial placements and skill levels. These disparities are larger among students with prior records of low academic status because students from more privileged backgrounds persist in math coursework even when their prior performance predicts they will not. Among students with low middle school math performance, those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families appear to benefit from having consultants for coursework decisions, so that they make up ground with their socioeconomically advantaged peers.