MERC report: Making Advanced Placement more equitable

The second report in a series on advanced coursework examines the nation’s most prominent college preparatory program.

By Sara Burns

Headshot of David Naff, Ph.D., for news article stories.
David Naff, Ph.D.

The Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC), a center affiliated with the VCU School of Education, released the second report in its equity in advanced coursework series titled “Analyzing Advanced Placement (AP): Making the Nation's Most Prominent College Preparatory Program More Equitable.”

The report provides important conclusions based off numerous research pieces on the AP program and frames itself around five key 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?

According to the report, there is a large disparity when it comes to the availability of AP classes – the college-level and potentially college-credit baring courses offered to high school students – that stems from the socioeconomic and racial compositions of schools. The report mentions multiple ways to address this disparity and make the AP program more equitable for all students.

“Our writing team worked for over a year on this report to do a deep dive into AP programs and how we can make them more equitable,” said David Naff, Ph.D., assistant director of MERC and lead author on the report. “We learned a lot along the way about how the AP program has grown over time, how racial and socioeconomic disparities in participation have endured, and what policies and practices help to address this issue.”

In addition to Naff, authors include:

Read more about the Equitable Access and Support for Advanced Coursework study on the MERC website or by signing up for the MERC stakeholder email listserv.