Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Jesse Senechal, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan Gooden, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Richard Huff, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Ph.D.


Advanced Placement (AP) courses engage high school students with college curriculum taught by trained high school teachers, with an opportunity for students to earn college credit by passing the end-of-course AP exam. AP has evolved into an indicator of school quality, instructional rigor, and a consideration in the college admissions process. AP enrollment and exam performance outcomes for White students disproportionately surpass those for Black students. This study attempts to inform practice, policy, and programming toward more equitable enrollment outcomes for Black students through a single case study. The selected case school was the only high school among 38 in central Virginia serving a significant proportion of both Black and White students demonstrating proportional AP enrollment between the Black and White student populations. Evidence gathered in the single case study through interviews and document review was analyzed to answer the research question: how do school-level practices and policies influence proportional AP enrollment for Black and White students at a central Virginia high school? Coding and narrative analysis were used to assess the case school’s practices, policies, and characteristics in the context of the four categories of school-based factors associated with equitable AP enrollment established by prior literature: curriculum characteristics, teacher training and awareness, family engagement and outreach, and student identification and recommendation processes. Equity was defined using overlapping social, racial, and educational equity frameworks within education and public administration. Findings showed that course recommendation processes, teacher training, unique school-based programming, course scheduling, instructional techniques toward increased rigor, and parent outreach are among the most significant school-level factors distinguishing the case school in its achievement of equitable AP enrollment between Black and White students, but that those school-level factors must be administered, executed, and nurtured in a school characterized by positive and encouraging relationships among students, staff, and leadership. It is recommended that equitable outcomes become a clear feature and requirement of local, state, and federal policy to prompt school personnel to work toward equity between Black and White students in AP enrollment and in the various processes and outcomes within public education. It is further recommended that policies and practices place an explicit premium on the power of relationships among stakeholders in each school in achieving equitable outcomes.


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