Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education
Taking Advanced Placement Courses but Not the Exam
Are Advanced Placement course takers leaving college credit on the table?
Millions of high school students who take an Advanced Placement (AP) course in one of over 30 subjects can earn college credit by performing well on the corresponding AP exam. Using data from four metro-Atlanta public school districts, researchers from Georgia Policy Labs find that 15 percent of students’ AP courses do not result in an AP exam. Estimates show that up to 32 percent of the AP courses that do not result in an AP exam would result in a college credit granting score. In terms of disparities, there are three takeaways. First, there is evidence consistent with the positive impact of school district exam subsidies on AP exam-taking rates. Second, Black students are 4 percentage points less likely to take an AP exam than their White peers. Third, there is no evidence that a female student paired with a female AP course teacher takes the AP exam at a higher rate as compared to being paired with a male teacher, even in courses that are underrepresented by females.