Date of Award

Winter 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Director

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Gwendolyn Lee-Thomas


African American high school students have been historically underrepresented in advanced placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and dual enrollment (DE) programs. The adoption of more equitable admissions practices has helped many school divisions develop a more ethnically diverse AP, IB, and DE student body. Despite increased African American student enrollment, retaining these students remains an ongoing problem. Equally troubling is the persistent achievement gap that exists between African American and White students in AP, IB, and DE programs African American students do not perform as well as Whites on program exit exams nor do they complete these programs at a rate comparable to White students. African American student underrepresentation must be addressed through both recruitment and retention. Thus, it is critical to understand academic and social adjustment among this student population and the effect that their ethnic identity achievement may have on their adjustment. Identifying differences in academic and social adjustment between African Americans and Whites is equally important. This dissertation hypothesizes that African American students enrolled in AP, IB, and DE programs do not achieve the same levels of academic and social adjustment as their White peers. It further hypothesizes that academic and social adjustment are influenced by ethnic identity achievement.

This was a statistical study of African American and White AP, IB, and DE students in two school districts. Data were collected using a student questionnaire comprised of the Institutional Integration Scale and the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure, as well as additional questions that solicited demographic information.

African American participants indicated higher levels of ethnic identity achievement than White participants and differences were statistically significant; however, differences in academic and social adjustment were not statistically significant between the two student groups. Thus, results suggest that African Americans and Whites in AP, IB, and DE programs achieve equal levels of academic and social adjustment. However, African American respondents who reported higher levels of ethnic identity achievement indicated higher levels of academic and social adjustment than African Americans who reported lower levels of ethnic identity achievement. Recommendations for high schools and suggestions for future research are given.