AN INVESTIGATION OF SITE-BASED ADMINISTRATORS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THE SCHOOL-BASED FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE STUDENTS’ AP ENROLLMENT AND SUCCESS
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A common goal for high schools is to graduate students who are college ready. Successful participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and end-of-course AP exams is a nationally recognized means for students to demonstrate their college readiness. As a result, AP has become an important aspect of high school instructional programs throughout the United States. Using data from across the nation, the College Board EXCELerator group has identified seven key areas that schools and school districts should develop to support AP courses and college readiness. These factors include leadership, curriculum planning and sequencing, a culture of expectations, instructional support, student support, data analysis, and examination readiness. Together, these factors help expand equity and access to AP and served as the basis for this investigation. In addition, research by the Wallace Foundation has shown that, among school-related factors that impact student learning, leadership is second only to teaching in significance. As such, this study sought to identify site-based administrators’ perceptions of school practices regarding the factors that impact AP enrollment and end of course AP exam success. For this study, the researcher defined site-based administrators as high school principals, assistant principals, and AP coordinators, all of whom can impact an AP program. The study used a descriptive, quantitative research methodology through an online survey. The survey data helped the researcher develop a clearer understanding of site-based administrators’ perceptions of the factors that impact AP programs. Results from the study indicated the following: • Site-based administrators perceived a need to develop leadership through the coordination of teacher training, student support, and data analysis for AP programs; • Site-based administrators perceived a pressing need to develop an academically challenging curriculum across grade levels that prepares students for rigorous AP coursework; • Site-based administrators identified students’ lack of academic readiness as one of the biggest barriers to successful participation in AP programs; and • Site-based administrators identified training for administrators and teachers as a priority in efforts to support AP programs. These results represent the most frequent responses of respondents and help frame an approach to strengthening a school’s AP program.