Teachers College, Columbia University

Student Participation and Performance on Advanced Placement Exams: Do State-Sponsored Incentives Make a Difference?

By Dong Wook Jeong

Many states provide incentives to students, teachers, and schools for the participation and success of students on Advanced Placement (AP) examinations.

The purpose of this article is to examine whether these incentives help students enroll and succeed in AP exams. An analysis of nationally representative AP exam data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 reveals that AP exam fee exemption—the most prevalent incentive—increases the likelihood that AP course enrollees will take the exam. In particular, it increases the likelihood that disadvantaged students will take AP exams.

In contrast, little evidence was found that incentives linked to performance—which several states practice—are helpful in improving AP exam participation and performance.