Assessing Equity in Advanced Programs through an Invitational Theoretical Perspective
Type of Degreedissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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An enrollment gap in advanced courses (Honors and Advanced Placement) for Black and economically disadvantaged students as compared to their White counterparts (College Board, 2010; Klopfenstein, 2004a; Lubienski, 2002; Taliaferro & DeCuir-Gunby, 2008) has been identified in research studies but few large scale studies exploring this gap from the perspectives of both students qualified and unqualified for advanced courses exist (Klopfenstein, 2004a; Taliferro & DeCuir-Gunby, 2008). Quantitative methods were used in this current study to examine the enrollment gap in advanced courses between Black and economically disadvantaged students as compared to White advantaged students. Participants included 1,462 students from two rural high schools in Georgia. The Program Access Student Survey (PASS) was researcher developed (Cabezas & Killingsworth, 2010). Invitational theoretical framework on the six elements for inviting diversity (Schmidt, 2007) and a thorough literature review guided development of the survey items that assessed students’ perceptions on equity, expectation, enlistment, empowerment, encouragement, and enjoyment. The following methods were used to establish validity of the survey: expert feedback, focus group, and a pilot test. Exploratory factor analysis supported a one-factor structure for the PASS. Additionally, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was the method used to measure the relationship between mean scores from the PASS and student enrollment in advanced courses. Results from the PASS indicated that there was a statistically significant difference in the perception of receiving inviting messages between Black, White, and low socioeconomic (SES) students who were enrolled in Honors and AP courses and Black, White, and low SES students who were not enrolled in Honors and AP courses. In conclusion, students who participated in advanced courses had the perception of receiving inviting messages more than students who never participated in Honors or AP. Finally, the disparity index indicated that Black and economically disadvantaged students were underrepresented in advanced programs and were therefore less likely to receive inviting messages related to advanced programs than White students. Recommendations for closing the enrollment gap are presented as well as suggestions for future research.