Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


Beginning in the late 1990's, amongst concern that traditionally underrepresented groups of students such as minorities and low income students had been denied the opportunity to enroll in AP courses, The College Board (the non profit agency that runs the AP program) began to emphasize its belief that all students should have the right to take AP courses if they desire and that secondary schools should not limit AP enrollment based on prerequisites such as teacher recommendation, GPA, and class rank. As a result of these factors, the AP program began to see dramatic gains in the number of students enrolled in its courses over the past decade. With the rapid growth in the Advanced Placement program, however, have come concerns that the rigor of the program is being diminished, as schools and teachers work to accommodate larger and larger numbers of underprepared students who have enrolled in these courses.

The purpose of this study was to use interviews with students and teachers to explore the experiences of students who enroll in AP courses, and it sought to distinguish between the experiences of "traditional" AP students versus "non-traditional" students. The study also used student GPAs, class rank, ACT scores and attendance records to build an academic profile of a successful AP student. The goal of the study was to identify the types of skills and dispositions necessary to achieve success in an AP course in order to provide school administrators and counselors helpful information as they engage in course selection with their students. The results of the study showed that there are many similarities between traditional and non-traditional students with regard to their AP experiences but differences do exist, and school personnel would be well-served to learn the motivations and goals of their students as they work to help them achieve academic success. The findings help to show the value that open enrollment has on a school and its students, and to highlight the attitudes, skills, and dispositions that enable such a policy to be successfully implemented.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.