The Advanced Placement Arms Race and the Reproduction of Educational Inequality

Via Teachers College Record

by Joshua Klugman — 2013

Background: Access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses is stratified by class and race. Researchers have identified how schools serving disadvantaged students suffer from various kinds of resource deprivations, concluding that interventions are needed to equalize access to AP courses. On the other hand, the theory of Effectively Maintained Inequality (EMI) argues that schools serving advantaged students may perpetuate inequalities by expanding their AP curriculum so their graduates can be competitive in the college admissions process.

Research Questions: Between 2000 and 2002, California attempted to expand AP offerings and enrollments. This study answers whether or not this intervention narrowed inequalities in AP along class and racial lines. It also examines if community affluence affects district officials’ views of pressures to offer AP courses, which could explain any effectively maintained inequalities in AP access.

Research Design: This study uses a panel dataset of all California public high schools from 1997 to 2006. It examines the changing effects of school poverty, upper-middle class presence, and school racial composition on offerings of and enrollments in AP subjects. It supplements the quantitative analysis with interviews from 11 school district officials in California conducted in 2006.

Results: Hierarchical generalized linear models show that upper-middle class presence structures California high schools’ AP subject offerings and enrollments, much more than school poverty. California’s intervention resulted in increased AP subject offerings and enrollments in high schools serving disadvantaged and less advantaged students, but these reductions in deprivation had trivial effects on inequalities, since schools serving advantaged students increased their own AP offerings and enrollments. In addition, high schools serving White and Asian students had larger increases in AP offerings and enrollments than high schools serving Black and Hispanic students. Interview data indicate that officials in affluent districts perceived a greater demand for AP subjects, and were more likely to report their school staff was proactive to initiate new AP courses than officials in districts serving working-class communities.

Conclusions: The findings document that while policies can increase AP access at schools serving low-income students, the actions of affluent schools and families will pose substantial barriers to achieving parity in AP offerings and enrollments. Moreover, studies gauging resource inequalities among schools may underestimate these inequalities if they use school poverty to measure schools’ socioeconomic composition. 

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Drug Resistant Infections Projected to Cause 10 Million Deaths a Year by 2050

Antimicrobial Resistance : Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations
Via: Review on Antimicrobial Resistance

The Review has published its first paper, Antimicrobial Resistance: Tackling a Crisis for the Health and Wealth of Nations on December 11 at a launch event hosted by its Chair, Jim O’Neill, in London. In this report we explain why failing to tackle drug-resistant infections will cause 10 million deaths a year and cost up to US$ 100 trillion a year by 2050.

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How Accurate is the Medical Advice Provided by Dr. Oz and The Doctors?

About half of the health recommendations had either no evidence behind them or they actually contradicted what the best-available science tells us. That means about half of what these TV doctors say to their millions of satellite patients is wrong, and potentially harmful and wasteful. From the study in the British Medical Journal:

Results We could find at least a case study or better evidence to support 54% (95% confidence interval 47% to 62%) of the 160 recommendations (80 from each show). For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%. For recommendations in The Doctors, evidence supported 63%, contradicted 14%, and was not found for 24%. Believable or somewhat believable evidence supported 33% of the recommendations on The Dr Oz Show and 53% on The Doctors. On average, The Dr Oz Show had 12 recommendations per episode and The Doctors 11. The most common recommendation category on The Dr Oz Show was dietary advice (39%) and on The Doctors was to consult a healthcare provider (18%). A specific benefit was described for 43% and 41% of the recommendations made on the shows respectively. The magnitude of benefit was described for 17% of the recommendations on The Dr Oz Show and 11% on The Doctors. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest accompanied 0.4% of recommendations.

Conclusions Recommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits. Approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence. Potential conflicts of interest are rarely addressed. The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.

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Americans Opinion on US-Cuba Relations: 56% Favor Normalization

Via Atlantic Council

American political opinion has shifted to support a broad US government opening to Cuba, including an end to the 54-year-old trade embargo and restrictions on travel by Americans to the island, according to a nationwide poll released today by the Atlantic Council… 56 percent favor a more direct US engagement with Cuba or even a normalization of relations with a nation that US policy has treated as a pariah since the 1960s. Continue reading–>

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Student Loan Debt and Economic Outcomes: Student Debt Now Surpasses Credit Card Debt

Via: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

This policy brief examines the impact of student loan debt on individuals’ homeownership status and wealth accumulation, employing a rich set of financial and demographic variables that are not available in many of the existing studies that use credit bureau data. It is important to understand whether and, if so, how student loan debt affects households’ economic decisions because student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt to become the second largest amount of household debt outstanding after mortgage debt.

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US Invasion of Iraq Based on Al Queda’s Involvement with Iraq Debunked

Despite being warned by the CIA not to use it, the Bush Administration relied on a false report, that Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 attacks, met with top Iraq officials to build a  case for invading Iraq.

Via Senator Carl Levin’ Office:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today plans to introduce into the Congressional Record important new information about how Bush administration officials misled the nation in advance of the Iraq War, and called on CIA Director John Brennan to fully declassify an important 2003 CIA cable.

Levin will introduce a letter he received from CIA Director John Brennan, declassifying for the first time some details of a March 2003 CIA cable warning the Bush administration against references to the allegation that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, had met before the attacks in Prague, Czech Republic, with an Iraqi intelligence officer. He also introduced a translated excerpt from a book by the former head of Czech counterintelligence, describing U.S. pressure to confirm that the meeting took place. In fact, no such meeting occurred. And he called on Brennan to fully declassify the CIA cable. Continue reading–>

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Income Inequality and the Marriage Gap

Via Russell Sage Foundation Review

A new RSF book by Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin, Labor’s Love Lost, provides an in-depth historical assessment of the rise and fall of working-class families in America. While industrial occupations were once plentiful and sustained middle-class families, they have all but vanished over the past forty years. As Cherlin shows, in their absence, ever-growing numbers of young adults now hold precarious, low-paid jobs with few fringe benefits. Facing such insecure economic prospects, less-educated young adults are increasingly forgoing marriage and are having children within unstable cohabiting relationships. This has created a large marriage gap between them and their more affluent, college-educated peers. Continue reading–>

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Greatest Wealth Inequality Gap between Black and White Families since 1989

Via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A study released Friday by the Pew Research Center in Washington showed that even though all families have struggled, the median net worth of white families, which was $141,900 in 2013, was 13 times greater than that of black families and 10 times greater than the median net worth of Hispanic families. It was the largest wealth inequality gap between black and white families since 1989 and since 2000 for white and Hispanic families.

All three ethnic groups saw their wealth shrivel as a result of the Great Recession. Between 2007 and 2010, the net worth for white families fell by $53,900 to $138,600; by $2,600 for black families to $16,600; and by $7,600 to $16,000 for Hispanic families.

Since 2010, of the three ethnic groups, only white families have regained ground, seeing median net worth hit $141,900. The median net worth for black families fell to $11,000 in the same time period; Hispanics’ net worth fell to $13,700. Continue reading–>

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Does High School Quality Matter? Long-Term Effects of High School Experience

Observable dimensions of high school quality explain approximately 20 percent of the variation in freshman GPA. Via NBER Digest:

To promote diversity in higher education, several states offer automatic admission to students who graduate at the top of their high school class. A new study, Can You Leave High School Behind? (NBER Working Paper No. 19842), exploits one such automatic admissions policy to study the effects of high school characteristics on college outcomes. The authors, Sandra Black, Jane Arnold Lincove, Jenna Cullinane, and Rachel Veron, find that high school characteristics affect performance in college, and that “[h]igh school variables measuring campus socioeconomic status (SES), academic preparation for college, and school resources all are related to college performance, as measured by freshman year GPA (grade point average).”

The study focuses on Texas, where a rule enacted in 1997 grants the top 10 percent of graduates from each in-state high school automatic admission to the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. This increased the diversity of UT students, but it also raised concerns about the preparation of students who came from lower-performing high schools. The authors study nearly 50,000 freshmen entering UT-Austin from 2002 to 2009, and find that high school characteristics affect students’ college performance. The percentage of students in free/reduced price lunch and special education programs at a student’s high school is negatively associated with freshman GPA, whereas the percentage of students taking Advanced Placement exams and SATs, more experienced teachers, and larger districts exhibit positive associations. “Observable dimensions of high school quality explain approximately 20 percent of the variation in freshman GPA,” according to the authors.

The factors having the largest impact, according to one of the statistical models developed by the authors, are the size of the district (or district economies of scale) and student SES. A one standard deviation increase in district size is associated with a rise of 0.27 grade points in a freshman’s GPA. However, a one standard deviation increase in the percentage of free/reduced lunches served at a school is associated with a decrease of 0.10 grade points. The authors report smaller effects of racial composition, student mobility, and the fraction of students in special education programs.

The authors find very little evidence that the impact of high school quality declines as students advance in college. The same high school characteristics that best predict students’ GPA performance as freshmen also predict it in their sophomore and junior years. The authors observe that “[t]here are a few notable examples that suggest that within-school changes in high school variables have different effects on different types of students.” For example, high schools’ percentage of students receiving a free/reduced lunch and levels of teacher experience are associated with the college GPA of females, but not of males.

Although the effect of any one of these high school characteristics is small, their cumulative effect can be significant. For instance, an 18-year-old Hispanic female whose mother has a high school education, whose family income is between $20,000 and $40,000, and who has $1,000 in unmet financial need, would be predicted to earn a GPA of 3.21 in her freshman year if she had attended one of the highest ranked high schools in greater Houston. If she attended one of the lowest ranked Houston high schools, her predicted GPA would be only 2.30.

The authors conclude that “our results support the hypothesis that high school quality matters in college and continues to influence students throughout their college careers.”


In recent years, many states, including California, Texas, and Oregon, have changed admissions policies to increase access to public universities for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A key concern, however, is how these students will perform. This paper examines the relationship between high school quality and student success at college. Using newly available administrative data from the University of Texas at Austin, we take advantage of the unique policy environment provided by Texas’s Top Ten Percent automatic admissions law, which has not only increased the diversity of high schools in the state that send students to the university, but also provides an admission criteria based on a sole observable characteristic: high school class rank. We find that high school characteristics do affect student performance, and these effects seem more pronounced for women and low-income students. In addition, there is little evidence that the effects of high school characteristics decay over time.

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Food Insecurity on Campus

1 in 10 hungry U.S. adults is a college student. Continue reading–>

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