Public Release: 

Closing race, poverty and gender gaps in advanced high school course-taking


WASHINGTON, DC--October 5, 2009--The latest research from the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management explores the wide disparities in advanced high school course-taking (such as Advanced Placement courses) among race, poverty, and gender groups in Florida.

The study finds that black and Hispanic students are less likely to enroll in advanced courses than their white peers because they arrive to high school with lower scores on eighth grade statewide exams. In fact, when black and Hispanic students have the same 8th grade test scores as whites, they are more likely than white students to enroll in the courses. Gaps in pre-high school performance also explain much of the advantage of non-poor students over poor students but do not appear to drive the higher rates of course-taking among Asians and among females.

Furthermore, despite concerns that schools serving minority and low-income students are not offering advanced courses, there are currently few such disparities in Florida. Black and Hispanic students in Florida actually attend schools that are more likely to offer advanced courses than do white students.

The findings support greater investments in disadvantaged (black, Hispanic, and poor) children long before they enter high school. The authors also suggest that a reallocation of students to different high schools is unlikely to remedy racial disparities in course-taking and may, in fact, increase them.


This study is published in the Autumn 2009 issue of Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact

To view the abstract for this article, please visit

The study was coauthored by Dylan Conger (George Washington University), Mark C. Long (University of Washington), and Patrice Iatarola (Florida State University). They can be reached for questions at, and, respectively.

About the Journal: The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, encompasses issues and practices in policy analysis and public management. Listed among the contributors are economists, public managers, and operations researchers. Featured regularly are book reviews and a department devoted to discussing ideas and issues of importance to practitioners, researchers, and academics..

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