A Little Now for a Lot Later: A Look at a Texas Advanced Placement Incentive Program

C. Kirabo Jackson, Cornell University

Suggested Citation
Jackson, C. K. (2007) A little now for a lot later: A look at a Texas advanced placement incentive program. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations site: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/student/16/

Required Publisher Statement
Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.

Abstract

I analyze a program that was implemented in schools serving underprivileged populations in Texas that pays both students and teachers for passing grades on advanced placement examinations. Exploiting the fact that different schools adopted the program at different times, I use a difference-in-differences strategy. I compare the changes in aggregate student outcomes, before and after adoption, for schools adopting the AP incentive program to the changes experienced over the same time period for carefully selected groups of comparison schools. Adoption of the AP incentive program is associated with a 30 percent increase in the number of students scoring above 1100 on the SAT or 24 on the ACT, and an 8 percent increase in the number of students who matriculate in college in Texas. The per-student costs of the program are very small relative to reasonable estimates of the implied lifetime benefits that accrue to affected students such that the APIP may ameliorate sub-optimal educational investments. Empirical evidence suggests that teachers and students were not simply aiming to maximize their rewards. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the increases in AP participation were due to better access to AP courses, changes in teacher and peer norms towards AP courses, and better student information.