The Psychosocial Functioning of High School Students in Academically Rigorous Programs

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This cross‐sectional study determined whether students who take part in academically challenging high school curricula experience elevated levels of stress and whether this stress co‐occurs with psychological and/or academic problems. Data from self‐report questionnaires and school records were collected from 480 students from four high schools. Results of analyses of covariance suggested that stress is not always associated with deleterious outcomes, as students in academically rigorous programs (specifically, Advanced Placement [AP] classes and International Baccalaureate [IB] programs) reported more perceived stress than did students in general education, while maintaining exceptionally high academic functioning. Furthermore, despite their stress level, the psychological functioning of students in AP and IB is similar or superior to the levels of psychopathology, life satisfaction, and social functioning reported from their peers in general education.

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Psychology in the Schools, v. 50, issue 8, p. 823-843