Title

The Alabama Advanced Placement Initiative: The Roles Of The Principal, Teacher, and Student In Bridging the Racial and Socio-Economic Gap In College Preparatory Curricula

Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Michael Ward

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

This research study was designed to determine leadership and instructional behaviors of administrators and teachers who are participants in the Alabama AP Initiative, as well as evaluate the perceptions of the AAPI with regard to student performance. The importance of this research was three-fold. First, this study provided principals, as well as aspiring principals, with statistical research for developing a new AP Program or other advanced curricula. Second, the results of this research provided statistical research for teachers, both experienced and those new to the AP Program, who are developing and/or improving instructional strategies that will become an effective means of teaching the skills outlined by the AP curriculum, while attracting a larger and more diverse group of students into the AP Program. Third, this study provided data that indicates whether the Alabama AP Initiative serves as a means of increasing participation and performance of minority students in inner city and rural school areas. The researcher developed three instruments to survey administrators, teachers, and students within the state of Alabama. The survey was used to determine leadership behaviors and instructional strategies used to implement the AAPI into high school curricula and to determine student perceptions of the AAPI. The researcher also examined four hypotheses centered around the comparison of AP exam scores, AP participation rates, and AP course enrollment over a three year period. A quantitative analysis of archival AP exam scores showed no significant difference in the AP participation rates of minority students, nor in the rates of minority students enrolling in AP courses over the three-year existence of the AAPI. In comparing AP exam scores of minority and non-minority students, data analyses showed a significant difference in only three of the ten subject areas tested. A descriptive analysis was used to examine the survey results. Administrators reported the following behaviors as useful in implementing the AAPI into their schools curriculum: soliciting teacher input in curriculum changes, recognizing the need for more minorities to enroll in advanced courses, communicating with parents and community leaders, and scheduling professional development workshops for adequate teacher training. Teachers reported maintaining regular communication with parents, incorporating strategies learned at AP training institutes, and encouraging students to take advanced courses as instructional strategies that have were useful in enhancing their AP courses. Students perceived the AAPI as beneficial in providing exposure to a college preparatory curriculum, as well as improving higher order thinking skills and standardized testing scores.