70 high schools selected in 2nd cohort
of AP/IB Equity & Excellence Project.

The newly-selected schools will join a national collaboration to open college-level course access to an additional 10,000 low-income students and students of color each year

Project Overview

Equal Opportunity Schools has selected 70 high schools from across the U.S. to participate in the second year of its AP/IB Equity & Excellence Project, the most rigorous study to date on the impact of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) on college completion for low-income students and students-of-color.

A 2012 Global Impact Award from Google enabled Equal Opportunity Schools to launch the study last year and provide match-funded technical assistance through partnerships with 65 schools across 29 districts. This year, EOS is adding another 24 districts and 1 new state, bringing the 2-year Project total to 135 high schools across 53 school districts in 8 states.

These districts are dedicated to enabling greater access to and success in their Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, especially for under-represented student groups. Students will be identified through deep data analysis that draws on teachers’ observations of students as well as other data indicating readiness for greater academic challenges.

The project’s effectiveness is being evaluated by Will Dobbie, assistant professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and faculty research fellow at the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University and will be the first ever gold-standard, random (school-level) assignment study of the impact of AP and IB on college completion. The study findings and results for students are anticipated to set an effectiveness baseline for the use of data- and leadership-driven approaches to close the achievement gap.

As educational leaders around the country seek cost-efficient ways to improve students’ readiness for college, this project holds special promise. Nine out of ten students already attend high schools that offer advanced learning programs that are doing a good job of preparing some students for college. And when educators find smart ways to build upon what’s already working by enabling further success in these programs, then we can create dramatically better college outcomes for students.

The 70 selected high schools will receive match-funded technical assistance and capacity-building support to fully close AP and IB participation gaps and raise student success. We are glad to have worked with the following county, state, and national network partners to identify and select the strongest school and district candidates for this project.


AP/IB Equity & Excellence Project Overview

  • Schools have access to matched-funded technical assistance to enable significant expansion and improvement of their AP/IB programs
  • Once partnership goals are achieve, schools join the <1% of schools nationally whose AP/IB programs fully reflect their student diversity, while improving AP/IB quality and overall school outcomes
  • Google Global Impact Award matches half the cost for technical assistance partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools and school/district matches the other half
  • Partner schools join a national movement of AP/IB equity and have access to a national cohort of 148 schools working toward, or having achieved, equitable rates of participation in AP/IB
  • Partner schools work in regional and state groupings that build momentum for broader change at the county and state levels

AP/IB Coursework, and the Achievement Gap & College

Existing Research on the Equal Opportunity Schools Model

Equal Opportunity Schools has worked with the Department of Education to review every existing study on the impact of AP and IB, and with the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization, and the Education Trust to review data on every AP and IB student in the country. While research on this front does not always isolate the impact of AP and IB, the research that does attempt to control other variables suggests the following:

  • Students moved into AP and IB classes are often more engaged in instruction, which has the potential to boost their attendance and seems to impact high school completion rates.
  • There is good reason to believe that AP and IB are causally connected to college admission, achievement and completion.

In addition to existing national studies and the study we are launching with Google’s support, Equal Opportunity Schools studies schools in the U.S. that have fully closed race and income AP/IB access gaps and out-perform their peers in AP/IB results, and works with partners to unpack very detailed student-specific data. Together, this national research and the local, school-specific research reveal strong opportunities for progress and strong, local strategies for upgrading missing students to challenging courses that’ll get them ready to achieve their college goals.

Some key findings showing the impact of students taking AP or IB courses from the study review are:

  • Students from all races and levels of income are 10-20 percent more likely to complete college if they have ever taken an AP course, regardless of whether or not they took or passed an exam.1
  • Students who have taken and passed an exam are 26-34 percent more likely to graduate than their non-AP taking counterparts.1
  • Students who have taken AP or IB are 10 percent more likely to complete high school and at least 5-9 percent more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than their peers.2
  • Students who took AP/IB earn 5-8 more college credits and earn college GPA’s 0.15 points higher than their peers.2

(1) Dougherty C, Mellor L, Jian S. The relationship between Advanced Placement and college graduation. 1.2006. Austin, Texas, National Center for Educational Accountability. 2005 AP Study Series.

(2) Long MC, Conger D, Iatarola P. Effects of High School Course-Taking on Secondary and Post- Secondary Success. Conditional acceptance by the American Educational Research Journal, 2011.