Kimberly Bridges, GC'13, contributes to report on unequal access to AP classes in Virginia

May 28, 2021

Kimberly Bridges, GC’13, is among a team of authors from the Penn State University Center for Education & Civil Right (CECR) and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education who published a report on unequal access to AP classes by race and economic status in Virginia.

The brief, titled Segregation within Schools: Unequal Access to AP Courses by Race and Economic Status in Virginia, reveals extensive racial/ethnic and socioeconomic gaps in AP course-taking among Virginia’s high school students.

The report provides the following initial recommendations:

  • VDOE, school divisions and local high schools should annually collect and publicly report AP course offerings, enrollment and exam outcomes by race, economic disadvantage and race and economic disadvantage.
  • Robust data collection should be accompanied by routine monitoring and planning for improvement (e.g., teacher training, shifting mindsets about AP, active recruitment of under-represented students into the program) at the school and district level.
  • Educational leaders should nurture understanding about educational inequities within and between schools through regular discussion of the data and critical reading groups.
  • Schools and divisions should expand access to AP courses and other higher-level classes by eliminating the lowest academic track in schools and actively working to enroll all students in higher-level coursework.
  • Virginia should expand access to AP exams by providing full financial support to low-income students for exam fees.
  • Because recent research suggests that higher levels of within-school, or second-generation, segregation tend to accompany progress on reducing between-school, or first generation, segregation, any shifts to student assignment policies that seek to address first-generation segregation must also include a plan to address second-generation segregation.

Bridges earned an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies through SPCS in 2013.