Supporting High School Students in Accelerated Courses

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Although Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (AP/IB) students may not be the most obvious group of adolescents in need of extra supports, this population has salient and unique risk factors in need of specialized services, such as elevated perceived stress levels. The heightened academic demands placed on these students is an inescapable byproduct of the curriculum. To further examine the variability in student outcomes and determine what intrapersonal and environmental features promote positive outcomes among AP/IB students, the research team examined a large, diverse sample of 1,150 students in AP classes (from 10 schools) and more than 1,200 students from IB programs (from 10 schools; Suldo et al., in press). In this cross-sectional study, data were collected from self-report measures and school records from a total of 2,379 AP/IB students in grades 9-12. The authors examined five student outcomes in two domains: mental health (life satisfaction, psychopathology, school burnout) and academic (GPA, AP/IB exam scores). The sizable percentages of students with low emotional well-being as seen on measures of life satisfaction, mental health problems, or academic burnout, and/or academic challenges as reflected in end-of-year performance that is below AP/IB program standards, illustrate that students in accelerated curricula need supports despite their history of academic success that led to enrollment in AP/IB classes. In this article, the authors discuss the specific needs of this underserved group and outline strategies to consider in universal and targeted supports tailored to the specific risk and protective factors that research has identified are particularly relevant to AP/IB students.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Communiqué, v. 46, issue 6, p. 18-21, art. 3