Eastern Economic Journal

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 346–369 | Cite as

Who Takes Advanced Placement (AP)?

  • Benjamin P Scafidi
  • Christopher Clark
  • John R Swinton


This paper provides an analysis of who takes Advanced Placement (AP) Economics. We find large differences in enrollment in AP Economics across groups. Specifically, African-American and Hispanic students and students from low-income backgrounds are about half as likely to be enrolled in AP Economics as other students. However, once we control for prior academic achievement in Geometry, African-American and Hispanic students are overrepresented relative to whites and the difference between low-income and other students is reduced significantly. Female students are overrepresented relative to males, and Asian students are overrepresented relative to whites — this latter effect is large.


achievement gaps advanced placement access 

JEL Classifications

A13 A21 I24 



We thank Ross Guest and seminar participants at the 2012 National Conference on Teaching Economics and Research in Economic Education in Boston, the 2012 American Economic Association meetings in Chicago, and the 2011 American Economic Association meetings in Denver for helpful comments. All remaining errors are ours.


  1. Ballard, Charles L., and Marianne F. Johnson . 2004. Basic Math Skills and Performance in an Introductory Economics Class. Journal of Economic Education, 35 (1): 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Clark, Chris, Benjamin Scafidi, and John R. Swinton . 2012. Does AP Economics Improve Student Achievement? American Economist, LVII (1): 1–20.Google Scholar
  3. College Board. 2007. Advanced Placement Report to the Nation 2007,õdownloads/about/news_info/ap/2007/2007_ap-report-nation.pdf (accessed December 15, 2011).
  4. College Board. 2012a. AP® Reading Draws 11,000 College and High School Faculty to Score More Than 3.7 Million AP Exams, (accessed June 26, 2012).
  5. College Board. 2012b. Achieving Equity, (accessed June 18, 2012).
  6. Conger, Dylan, Mark C. Long, and Patrice Iatarola . 2009. Explaining Race, Poverty, and Gender Disparities in Advanced Course-Taking. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 28 (4): 555–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duncan, Arne . 2010. The three myths of high school reform. Secretary Arne Duncan’s remarks at the College Board AP Conference, (accessed June 21, 2012).Google Scholar
  8. Duncan, Arne . 2011 A well-rounded curriculum in the age of accountability. Remarks by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at National Council for Social Studies Annual Conference, (accessed June 21, 2012).
  9. Fernández-Val, Iván . 2009. Fixed Effects Estimation of Structural Parameters and Marginal Effects in Panel Probit Models. Journal of Econometrics, 150 (1): 71–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ferrarini, Tawni H., James D. Gwartney, and John S. Morton . 2011. Advanced Placement Economics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Econ Journal Watch, 8 (1): 57–75.Google Scholar
  11. Fordham, Signithia, and John U. Ogbu . 1986. Black Students’ School Success: Coping with the “Burden of ‘Acting White’ ”. Urban Review, 18 (3): 176–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Handwerk, Philip, Namrata Tognatta, Richard J. Coley, and Drew H. Gitomer . 2008. Access to Success: Patterns of Advanced Placement Participation in US High Schools. Policy Information Center, Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.Google Scholar
  13. Horrace, William C., and Ronald L. Oaxaca . 2006. Results on the Bias and Inconsistency of Ordinary Least Squares for the Linear Probability Model. Economics Letters, 90 (3): 321–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jackson, Kirabo . 2010. A Little Now for a Lot Later: A Look at a Texas Advanced Placement Incentive Program. Journal of Human Resources, 43 (3): 591–639.Google Scholar
  15. Jencks, Christopher, and Meredith Phillips . 1998. The Black-White Test Score Gap: An Introduction. in The Black-White Test Score Gap. edited by Christopher Jencks, and Meredith Phillips Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  16. Johnson, William R., and Derek Neal . 1998. Basic Skills and the Black-White Earnings Gap. in. The Black-White Test Score Gap. edited by Christopher Jencks, and Meredith Phillips Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  17. Klopfenstein, Kristin . 2004. The Advanced Placement Expansion of the 1990s: How Did Traditionally Underserved Students Fare? Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12 (68): 1–12.Google Scholar
  18. Klopfenstein, Kristin, and M.Kathleen Thomas . 2009. The Link between Advanced Placement Experience and Early College Success. Southern Economic Journal, 75 (3): 873–891.Google Scholar
  19. Klopfenstein, Kristin, and M.Kathleen Thomas . 2010. Advanced Placement Participation: Evaluating the Policies of States and Colleges. in AP: A Critical Examination of the Advanced Placement Program. edited by Philip M. Sadler, Gerhard Sonnert, Robert H. Tai, and Kristin Klopfenstein Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 167–188.Google Scholar
  20. Magnuson, Katherine A., and Jane Waldfogel . 2008. Introduction. in Steady Gains and Stalled Progress: Inequality and the Black-White Test Score Gap. edited by Katherine A. Magnuson, and Jane Waldfogel New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  21. Moore, George W., and John R. Slate . 2008. Who’s Taking the Advanced Placement Courses and How are They Doing: A Statewide Two-Year Study. The High School Journal, 92 (1): 56–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. National Education Goals Panel. 1999. The National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners, 1999. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  23. Parker, Stephanie . 2012. For Minorities in US Public Schools, Risk of a Dismal Future. Inter Press Service News Agency, (accessed June 18, 2012).
  24. Reardon, Sean F. 2011. The Widening Academic Achievement Gap between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations. in Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality and the Uncertain Life Chances of Low-Income Children. edited by Greg Duncan, and Richard J. Murnane New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  25. Sadler, Philip M., Gerhard Sonnert, Robert H. Tai, and Kristin Klopfenstein eds. 2010. AP: A Critical Examination of the Advanced Placement Program. Harvard Education Press.Google Scholar
  26. Taliaferro, Jocelyn D.V., and Jessica T. DeCuir-Gunby . 2008. African American Educators’ Perspectives on the Advanced Placement Opportunity Gap. Urban Review, 40 (2): 164–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. US Chamber of Commerce. 2011. Enterprising States: Recovery and Renewal for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber of Commerce Foundation.Google Scholar
  28. Willingham, Warren W., and Margaret Morris . 1986. Four Years Later: A Longitudinal Study of Advanced Placement Students in College. College Board Research Report No. 86–2; ETS RR No. 85–46. Princeton, NJ: The College Board.Google Scholar
  29. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. 2009. Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach, 4th ed., Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Eastern Economic Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin P Scafidi
    • 1
  • Christopher Clark
    • 2
  • John R Swinton
    • 2
  1. 1.Kennesaw State University, Coles College of BusinessKennesawUSA
  2. 2.Georgia College and State UniversityMilledgevilleUSA

Personalised recommendations