Can an informational intervention reduce race- and class-based gaps in AP course-taking?

Can an informational intervention increase Black, Latino, and low-income student participation in Advanced Placement courses?

While there is robust documentation of persistent race- and class-based gaps in Advanced Placement (AP) participation, we have a limited understanding of why students who are eligible to take AP courses do not—particularly Black, Latino, and low-income students. In this study, Rodriguez will investigate what criteria, if any, high schools use to determine eligibility for AP coursework, and how that information is communicated. She will also examine if students who attend high schools that provide information about the accessibility and benefits of AP have higher participation rates in AP relative to students who attend high schools that do not provide such information. Lastly, Rodriguez will identify whether high schools become more inclusive or restrictive in their provision of AP if student demand for AP increases. The research is divided into two parts. The first part relies on school-level survey and administrative data to understand how schools select students for AP and identify eligible participants. It also uses student-level surveys to examine students’ understanding and perceptions of AP. The second part is an experimental study that will examine the effect of an informational intervention on AP participation among eligible AP course-takers, particularly Black, Latino, and low-income students. In the first two years of the award, Rodriguez will receive mentoring from Fred Doolittle, Vice President and Director of the K-12 Education Policy Area at MDRC, focusing on the recruitment of schools and the common challenges of RCT implementation. Susan Dynarski, Professor of Public Policy, Education, and Economics at the University of Michigan will also mentor Rodriguez in the design of the intervention, as well as provide local ad-hoc support.