Phi Beta Cons

Advanced Placement by Race

Here’s a story from the New York Times from two days ago on advanced placement course enrollments by race. The main item is that while African Americans make up 14 percent of the student population, they make up only 7 percent of the advanced placement population.  Most of that discrepancy is complemented by Asian American and white enrollments:

Although African-American students were underrepresented last year, Asian students were the opposite; 11 percent of students who took the tests were Asian, while only 6 percent of the student population was Asian. About 62 percent of students who took the exams were white, while 65 percent of the nation’s student population was white, the report said.

Hispanic enrollment in advanced placement matched its overall population number, 14 percent.
Because advanced placement has become so important to college admissions, and to avoiding remediation and dropouts, the trend has enormous implications for college enrollments. The good thing about stories like this, however, is that they shift the issue away from questions about racial proportions in the college population, with all the attendant discussions of diversity and racism, and toward the pre-college performance and trends. The more we focus socio-economic inquiries on the earlier grades, the better. Universities are entirely unsuited to closing strong achievement gaps in middle and high school.

The Latest