Predictors of Success Among High School Students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programs

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accelerated curricula, high school students, risk and resiliency factors, student success

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Research has shown that students in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs experience higher levels of stress compared to students in general education classes. Elevated stress can serve as a risk factor for students’ academic and mental health problems. Given the documented stress of these students, additional investigations are needed to more fully understand how students experience these curricula and the factors associated with positive student outcomes. Thus, we set out to identify factors associated with success among AP/IB students, with an emphasis on exploring potentially malleable factors that could be targeted with existing or newly developed interventions. Data were collected via self-report measures and school records from 2,379 students (Grades 9-12) enrolled in AP or IB in 20 school programs in one state. We examined the relationships among 34 predictors (e.g., stressors, coping styles, student engagement, family factors, school factors, and demographic features) of success. Success was represented by five outcomes in two domains: mental health (life satisfaction, psychopathology, school burnout) and academic (GPA, AP/IB exam scores). Better outcomes in both domains were associated with higher levels of achievement motivation and cognitive engagement, as well as lower levels of parent–child conflict, stress from major life events, and use of avoidance coping strategies. Higher levels of affective engagement, use of approach coping, and authoritative parenting were robust predictors of positive mental health outcomes and unrelated (in multivariate analyses) to academic outcomes. Findings have implications for subsequent development of intervention efforts targeting factors associated with student success.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Gifted Child Quarterly, v. 62, issue 4, p. 350-373