THE PSYCHOSOCIAL FUNCTIONING OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN ACADEMICALLY RIGOROUS PROGRAMS

Authors


  • This work was supported, in part, by the University of South Florida Research Office through the New Researcher Grant Program under Grant Number RO52778 that was awarded to the first author. The authors of this article would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following members of their university research team: Allison Friedrich, Jessica Michalowski, Yanique Matthews, Devon Minch, Bethanne Bower, Falon Williams, and Angelica Wierzel.

Correspondence to: Shannon Suldo, Department of Psychological and Social Foundations, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue, EDU 105, Tampa, FL, 33620. E-mail: suldo@usf.edu

Abstract

This cross-sectional study determined whether students who take part in academically challenging high school curricula experience elevated levels of stress and whether this stress co-occurs with psychological and/or academic problems. Data from self-report questionnaires and school records were collected from 480 students from four high schools. Results of analyses of covariance suggested that stress is not always associated with deleterious outcomes, as students in academically rigorous programs (specifically, Advanced Placement [AP] classes and International Baccalaureate [IB] programs) reported more perceived stress than did students in general education, while maintaining exceptionally high academic functioning. Furthermore, despite their stress level, the psychological functioning of students in AP and IB is similar or superior to the levels of psychopathology, life satisfaction, and social functioning reported from their peers in general education.

Ancillary