The Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD has had the APIP since 2002.
Fred Hurst, Alvarez's AP physics teacher at R.I. Turner High School, said the program has changed the academic culture of the school.
"When I first started. I might have a class of maybe 15 kids, and now I have two classes of around 50," Hurst said of his AP physics course. "It's just opened up the amount of kids who take AP."
Charlebois shared similar thoughts.
"I see the AP program as such a strength," Charlebois said.. "The success we've had has been exponential."
Indeed, at R.I. Turner High School, a predominantly Hispanic high school just outside of Dallas, 658 students took AP Exams in math, science and English in 2012, a dramatic increase from the 370 who had taken the exams in the prior year, according to figures provided by Charlebois.
Of the AP test takers last year, 228 scored 3 or better - a passing score. That's twice as many as the 124 who achieved passing scores the year before.
Hurst refers lo Al' classes as "a great equalizer,"
"What I love about AP is when a kid is taking a lest, it doesn't matter what walk of life you come from," Hurst said. "A 4 is a 4, a 5 is a 5, a 3 is a 3 regardless of where you live or what your dad does for a living."
But achieving the passing scores is not an easy feat.
"The AP course definitely requires more time," Alvarez said. "We get homework way more often than non-AP students. But one of the things about Al1 classes is 1 have to apply myself more to grasp the material."
Students also have to pay to lake the exams, although students in APIP program at R.L. Turner Iligh School - where roughly two-thirds of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch - get to take the exams at a discounted rate of about $20. according to Charlebois.
The extra work and the investment evidently pay off.
According lo a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper tilled Do College-Prep Programs Improve Ijong-Term Outcomes?, the APIP increases college attendance by an average of 4.2 percent and wage earnings by at least 2. 7 percent.
Hispanic students who participated in the program experienced a 2.5 percentage point increase in college degree attainment, and an 11 percent increase in earnings, according to the paper by Northwestern University labor economist C. Kirabo Jackson.
"The APIP led to larger improvements m educational attainment and earnings for Hispanic students (the group with die lowest baseline college attendance rates) than for white and black students," Jackson said in the paper.
"These findings suggest that, in addition to reducing ethnic gaps within schools, because the program was targeted to inner-city schools with low shares of high income and white students, the program also helped to reduce educational and. earnings gaps overall," Jackson said in the paper. "The earnings increases associated with the APIP for Hispanic and black students are large enough to reduce the black-white earnings gap by one-third and to eliminate the Hispanicwhite earnings gap entirely."
Jackson expounded on the long-term financial benefits of die program.
He noted that the total cost of the program is roughly $225 per high school junior and senior, and thus $450 per student since most students are exposed to the program for two years.
Once in the world of work, those who would have otherwise earned $25,000 per year earn an additional S925 per year.
"This would imply a lifetime benefit of the APIP of S 16,650 and a benefit-to-cost ratio of 37 to 1." Jackson states in Ills paper. "With higher baseline earnings, this ratio would be even higher."
He said the findings imply that ;'it might be possible to enhance outcomes by impnmng both students' and teachers' decision making and increasing access to well-taught rigorous courses."
Jackson said his study is groundbreaking because while recent evidence has shown dial moving students from low-performing schools lo high-performing schools can improve student outcomes, very little evidence has shown that students' long-run outcomes can be improved by adopting a program at their current schools.
"Because there has been little credible evidence on die efficacy of collegeprep programs despite large public and private expenditure on such programs, (he results of this study are encouraging abotit the potential efficacy of college-preparatory programs at improving the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students who are consigned to inner-city schools," Jackson states.
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