Advanced Participation Among Hispanic Students



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Background: The foundation of academic preparation begins early in a student’s life. Student instruction throughout the K-12 years can help prepare students for success in either post-secondary education or their career. As our lives become more dependent on areas that comprise science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), youth must develop the necessary skills to meet this demand. Although there are opportunities for all students to participate in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, there is a lack of Hispanic student representation. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify factors that affect Hispanic student’s AP enrollment, including socioeconomic status and status as an English language learner. The goal of the study was to analyze Hispanic students’ participation and performance in AP courses utilizing existing district data. Identifying the factors that affect Hispanic English learners (ELs), including their low-socioeconomic status, will help schools understand the dynamics that influence AP decisions. This information can be used to encourage enrollment of Hispanic students by improving the preparation for the AP classes and increase the state and national representation of Hispanics in STEM careers. Method: Masked data from a school district in a large urban area was gathered to answer the research questions. The data were analyzed using a Chi-Square test to calculate the difference in student enrollment among ethnicities in Pre-AP, AP, and Dual Credit courses. A Chi-Square test was run to determine if there was a significant difference between Hispanic Economically Disadvantaged and Non-Economically Disadvantaged students’ enrollment in AP STEM, AP Spanish, and AP. A Chi-Square test was run to analyze differences between Hispanic English Learners and Non-English learners’ participation in AP STEM, AP Spanish, and participation in any AP course. Results: Hispanic students had a lower participation rate in all courses compared to non-Hispanic students. Of the total Pre-AP, only participants (n=2605), thirty-nine percent (n=1029) were Hispanic versus sixty percent Non-Hispanic (n=1576). The total number of students participating in general AP was 757, with thirty-four percent identified as Hispanic students (n=258). Dual Credit courses had a total of 582 students, of which forty percent were Hispanic students (n=234). The only discernible difference was the rate at which students identified as Hispanic English Learners enrolled in AP Spanish only (n=15) courses (an increase of nine percent). Finally, slightly over half (52%) of the Hispanic non-ELs (n=2608) were not enrolled in any AP courses. Conclusion: Overall, the data indicate the students identified as both Hispanic and low social-economic status have a lower enrollment rate in any AP course, including Dual Credit. The study found that Hispanic students who are not economically disadvantaged enroll in more AP courses that are not limited to AP STEM and AP Spanish. The study also found that Hispanic Non-English Learners enroll in more AP courses than English Learners. Addressing the barriers that Hispanic students encounter when enrolling in college readiness courses can help improve Hispanic student participation in advanced preparation courses and STEM-related fields.



Advanced preparation, Hispanic students