How's this for return on an investment? For about $450 per student, a program to boost participation and success in AP courses pays a return at least 10 times as high.
How's this for a crying shame? There are many schools that would like to adopt the program but lack the funds to do so.
Change the Equation member companies have done their part  to change that. In late 2010 and 2011, they brought the program , the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program  (APTIP), to thousands of students across the country. APTIP combines support for students, training for staff, and cash incentives for both with a host of other measures to get more students to take more AP classes and pass more AP tests. The program has had dramatic results for low-income students and students of color, who are much less likely than their peers to take and pass AP tests.
A rigorous study  just released by the National Bureau of Economic Research  (NBER) finds that students who took part in APTIP "students took and passed more AP course and exams, and enrolled in college in greater numbers. Most of this increase occurred at four-year colleges and private universities. Affected students were also more likely to persist in college, to earn more college credits, and slightly more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree. In addition, affected students were more likely to be employed and earned higher wages."
How much higher were the wages? "The earnings increases for Hispanic and black students are large enough to reduce the black-white earnings gap by one third and to eliminate the Hispanic-white earnings gap entirely."
The study concludes that every aspect of the program contributes to its success. None of its elements--cash rewards, training, or greater access to AP courses--would have the same bang for the buck on their own.
Just how important is this finding? The author claims that his study offers "the first credible evidence that implementing college-preparatory programs in existing urban schools can improve both the long-run educational and labor market outcomes of disadvantaged students."
In other words, APTIP could be the first college prep program to prove that it makes a real difference for our most vulnerable students.
Hat tip: The Education Optimists .