Does AP Economics Improve Student Achievement?

31 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2010

See all articles by Christopher Clark

Christopher Clark

Georgia College & State University

Benjamin P. Scafidi

Georgia College & State University; Kennesaw State University - Michael J. Coles College of Business

John R. Swinton

Georgia College & State University

Date Written: April 15, 2010

Abstract

We employ a cautious empirical approach to estimate the effect of taking Advanced Placement (AP) Economics in high school on student performance on a high-stakes, statewide End-of-Course Test (EOCT). Using data on all Georgia students who took economics from 2006 to 2008, we use propensity score matching to control for the selection of students into AP Economics. Our most conservative estimate makes an adjustment for teacher effects and suggests that students who take high school economics in an AP class score 0.283 standard deviations higher on the economics EOCT than “matched” students who are in high schools that do not offer AP Economics. We find large differences in “AP effects” across subpopulations - in particular, students from low income backgrounds, African Americans, and students who performed poorly in prior mathematics courses benefit the most from AP Economics. All estimates of AP effects are substantially below OLS estimates, suggesting positive selection into AP Economics. Finally, the results are robust to different matching techniques for the full sample and all large and medium sized subpopulations.

Keywords: AP Economics, Matching Estimators

JEL Classification: A21, I21

Suggested Citation

Clark, Christopher and Scafidi, Benjamin P. and Swinton, John R., Does AP Economics Improve Student Achievement? (April 15, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1590342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1590342

Christopher Clark

Georgia College & State University ( email )

Milledgeville, GA 31061-0490
United States
478-445-2588 (Phone)

Benjamin P. Scafidi

Georgia College & State University ( email )

CBX 14
Milledgeville, GA 31061
United States
478-445-2578 (Phone)

Kennesaw State University - Michael J. Coles College of Business ( email )

1000 Chastain Road
Kennesaw, GA 30144
United States

John R. Swinton (Contact Author)

Georgia College & State University ( email )

Milledgeville, GA 31061-0490
United States
478-445-2591 (Phone)

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