Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Ross E. Mitchell, PhD

Committee Members

Greg W. Hamilton, EdD

Matthew A. Witenstein, PhD


Advanced Placement, equity, justice, advocate, discretion, policy


Academic Advising | Educational Leadership | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


In the K–12 education setting, professional school counselors are uniquely positioned to support high quality educational opportunities for all students. At the secondary level, student participation in Advanced Placement (AP) programming can be viewed as one such example of opportunity. School counselors serve as student advocates by channeling information and creating access to educational opportunity like AP. This important work takes place in the context of a bureaucratic policy environment that necessarily shapes the way AP opportunity is allocated in the local context. Charged with promoting equity and access to educational opportunity for all students, school counselors operate in a space of tension, and even conflict, when district policy, school site policy, and organizational norms related to AP participation signal less-than-open access. In this environment, school counselor advocacy and leadership become increasingly important determinants of opportunity and academic outcomes, particularly for students in the margins. The aim of this qualitative study was to examine the extent to which school counselors (a) are enabled and/or constrained in their ability to create student access to AP coursework, (b) use discretionary decision making as they navigate local AP course-taking policy, (c) consider efficiency and equity as values associated with policy and counseling practice, and (d) identify and perceive justice in their local context of professional work.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


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