Beyond College Credit – Leveraging AP as an Effective Workforce Strategy

Increasing the number of workers with an education beyond high school, and preferably with a four-year college degree, is an economic imperative and is also critical to give workers and their families greater economic stability and security. Most of the jobs being created in Massachusetts require workers who have a college degree. Although Massachusetts is the most well-educated state in the country, educational attainment is uneven across different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and the workers who represent an increasing share of the state’s labor force are less likely to attend and graduate from college. As a result, there are significant questions about whether there will be enough workers to meet the needs of the growing industries in Massachusetts. Of particular concern is the pipeline for future Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workers because of the substantial impact STEM jobs have on the state’s economic prosperity. Research by a wide range of scholars consistently finds that rigorous coursework in high school matters for a student’s future success in college and beyond. The Advanced Placement (AP®) program is an effective strategy for high-school students to take advanced coursework and has been shown to prepare students for success both in college and beyond. The AP program can contribute to solving this economic challenge, but only if steps are taken to identify, prepare, and support underserved students.

Five Big Ideas from this Insights Paper:

  • Massachusetts’s continued economic prosperity relies on increasing the number of workers who have a college degree, and there is a particular need for workers who have STEM skills.
  • The racial and ethnic mix in Massachusetts is becoming increasingly diverse, and future growth in population and workers in Massachusetts depends on students of color.
  • Research consistently finds that taking rigorous courses in high school prepares students for success in both college and the labor force.
  • The Advanced Placement (AP) program is an effective strategy for increasing students’ access to advanced coursework, especially among students of color.
  • Expanding access without compromising quality will require: supporting high schools, better aligning AP outcomes with college credit policies, and identifying the unmet need.

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Preview of first page of Insights paper

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