Summer 2019



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Laura Halldin

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Jane Dunn

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Jen Munsch


Upper level honors, Advanced Placement, and dual enrollment courses in high schools reflect different racial demographics from mainstream on-level courses. The research question addressed in this study examined the doorways and barriers to enrollment in college preparatory courses for students who are black, Hispanic and American Indian. A mixed method approach was used to determine the precise racial disparity and an understanding of why the disparity exists. A quantitative analysis measured racial disparities in enrollment data for honors, Advanced Placement, and dual enrollment core courses in a large suburban high school. White and Asian students were over-represented in college preparatory courses while black, Hispanic, and American Indian students were under-represented. Next, a qualitative analysis provided descriptive data to answer the research question. The teacher selected a sample of students to interview. Participants were asked to discuss their enrollment decisions. Half of the participants had chosen college preparatory courses, and half had chosen to stay in mainstream on-level courses. Participant responses were transcribed and coded based on similar strands of doorways and barriers to enrollment. Factors facilitating enrollment in college preparatory courses included: participation in gifted or honors pipeline in earlier grades; academic confidence based on success in previous courses, creating; high expectations from family; student understanding of how college prep courses fit into the long-term goal of college success; a sense of belonging; strong support from counselors and teachers. Significant barriers to enrollment included: previous exclusion from gifted or honors academic pipeline in earlier grades; low academic confidence; low expectations from family; no peers enrolled in a college prep course; lack of teacher and counselor connection; and racial isolation.

Research Methodology

Descriptive Statistics, Interview


Multicultural Education, Scheduling, Social Justice, Teachers/ Teaching








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