We employ a cautious empirical approach to estimate the effect of taking Advanced Placement (AP) Economics in high school on student performance on a high-stakes, statewide End-of-Course Test (EOCT). Using data on all Georgia students who took economics from 2006 to 2008, we use propensity score matching to control for the selection of students into AP Economics. Our most conservative estimate makes an adjustment for teacher effects and suggests that students who take high school economics in an AP class score 0.283 standard deviations higher on the economics EOCT than “matched” students who are in high schools that do not offer AP Economics. We find large differences in “AP effects” across subpopulations - in particular, students from low income backgrounds, African Americans, and students who performed poorly in prior mathematics courses benefit the most from AP Economics. All estimates of AP effects are substantially below OLS estimates, suggesting positive selection into AP Economics. Finally, the results are robust to different matching techniques for the full sample and all large and medium sized subpopulations.
The American Economist
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