5
Other Opportunities and Approaches to Advanced Study

Advanced Placement (AP) courses and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are designed to meet the educational needs of high school students who are motivated and prepared for academic challenges beyond those that characterize most high school curricula. They are the only two nationally recognized, comprehensive, multisubject programs offered for this purpose in the United States. This chapter reviews other current opportunities for advanced study and some of the more common alternative models for providing college-level learning to high school students. It also describes some of the more widely recognized enrichment programs that provide opportunities for advanced study in settings other than classrooms, including internships and mentorships and academic and research competitions.1 Many students, even those enrolled in AP, IB, or other formal programs, take advantage of some of these enrichment activities.

ALTERNATIVES FOR PROVIDING COLLEGE-LEVEL LEARNING IN HIGH SCHOOL

There are many opportunities for high school students to engage in college-level learning through local and state-sponsored programs. Some of these alternative programs follow the AP content outlines; others do not. Although many of the programs award college credit to high school students, less is documented about the transferability of credits earned by students in these alternative programs than is the case for credits earned through

1  

Some students who pursue independent study document their learning and eligibility for college credit by taking one of the subject tests offered as part of the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). Traditionally, CLEP examinations have been taken by adults who have been out of school for a long time. However, the College Board is beginning to encourage high schools to offer both AP and CLEP opportunities to their students (http://www.collegeboard.org/clep/clephs/html/hs004.html [November 27, 2001]).



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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools 5 Other Opportunities and Approaches to Advanced Study Advanced Placement (AP) courses and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are designed to meet the educational needs of high school students who are motivated and prepared for academic challenges beyond those that characterize most high school curricula. They are the only two nationally recognized, comprehensive, multisubject programs offered for this purpose in the United States. This chapter reviews other current opportunities for advanced study and some of the more common alternative models for providing college-level learning to high school students. It also describes some of the more widely recognized enrichment programs that provide opportunities for advanced study in settings other than classrooms, including internships and mentorships and academic and research competitions.1 Many students, even those enrolled in AP, IB, or other formal programs, take advantage of some of these enrichment activities. ALTERNATIVES FOR PROVIDING COLLEGE-LEVEL LEARNING IN HIGH SCHOOL There are many opportunities for high school students to engage in college-level learning through local and state-sponsored programs. Some of these alternative programs follow the AP content outlines; others do not. Although many of the programs award college credit to high school students, less is documented about the transferability of credits earned by students in these alternative programs than is the case for credits earned through 1   Some students who pursue independent study document their learning and eligibility for college credit by taking one of the subject tests offered as part of the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). Traditionally, CLEP examinations have been taken by adults who have been out of school for a long time. However, the College Board is beginning to encourage high schools to offer both AP and CLEP opportunities to their students (http://www.collegeboard.org/clep/clephs/html/hs004.html [November 27, 2001]).

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools qualifying scores on AP or IB examinations. As a result, an increasing number of students who participate in alternative college-level learning programs or in courses taught in specialized schools that do not offer AP classes document their achievement for college credit and/or placement by taking AP examinations in the appropriate subject area.2 (IB does not allow students to take subject examinations unless they have completed the corresponding course at a school authorized to offer the IB program.) The committee did not have the information or resources needed for a careful evaluation of the effectiveness of any of these alternative opportunities, but does note that such evaluation is necessary because there is tremendous variability among these programs, even those ostensibly designed for the same purpose. Further, there are no standardized external assessments, such as those used in the AP and IB programs, to measure student learning or the quality of the programs themselves. The committee suggests that systematic evaluation of these models be conducted to provide objective data about their quality and their effects on students, teachers, high schools, colleges, and universities. Collaborative Programs With the exception of AP, the most prevalent option for college-level learning has evolved from collaborative efforts among universities, 2- or 4-year colleges, and high schools. In some cases, the colleges, universities, or high schools involved initiate these collaborations; others are mandated by state legislatures or other policymaking entities. Although these collaborations differ in terms of funding sources, site of instruction, faculty, class composition, and the use of technology (Russell, 1998), they frequently take one of the following forms: College courses taught in high schools. Dual-enrollment options. Concurrent enrollment options. Prematriculation enrichment programs designed for specific groups of students, including talented, minority, and able but underprepared or unmotivated students. Rationales for promoting college-level learning for high school students include (1) strengthening the high school curriculum and raising expectations for high school students; (2) decreasing the total number of credits students need to complete college, thus reducing, at least potentially, both the time required for the baccalaureate and costs to parents, students, and 2   Lee Jones, College Board director of AP programs (personal communication), 2001.

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools taxpayers; and (3) offering the potential to enrich students’ undergraduate college experiences by reducing the need to take some introductory courses and allowing earlier entry into more-advanced courses, facilitating double majors, and permitting students to enroll in a more enriched array of electives (Greenberg, 1992; Johnstone, 1993). Others point to the positive social consequences of college and high school partnerships, asserting that such partnerships provide opportunities for students who attend schools where AP, honors, and gifted-and-talented courses are not readily available (Tafel and Eberhart, 1999). College Courses Taught in High School College courses taught in high school are typically the product of cooperative educational program agreements between high schools and colleges to offer college courses for credit in the high school. The postsecondary institutions are usually responsible for the curricular content and for standards, administrative support, and program monitoring. High school faculty, supervised by college faculty, frequently teach these courses.3 Both college and high school administrators and faculty have been raising concerns about the widespread implementation of these types of programs. Their concerns revolve around the following: Qualifications of the teachers who teach the courses. Policies for awarding college credit. Characteristics of a “qualified” student. Impact on the high schools’ curricula. Difficulties associated with maintaining an atmosphere in high schools that is commensurate with the instructional/social setting and expectations of a college class. Impact on the workload of high school teachers selected to teach university-level courses. Instructional models that stress teacher-dominated class discussions to cover the scope of a college course. Costs. Dual Enrollment Dual-enrollment options usually involve high school students taking college courses that allow them to earn both college credit and credit to- 3   Syracuse University’s Project Advance is one of the oldest and most widely recognized programs of this type. Information about this program can be accessed at http://supa.syr.edu/ (November 27, 2001).

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools ward a high school diploma so that high school graduation is not delayed. These programs enable students to attend nearby colleges, sometimes at reduced tuition rates. State departments of education and/or local school boards certify the majority of dual-enrollment programs. In most cases, students attend the college as full-time students and use the college credits obtained to meet high school graduation requirements. At least 38 states have formal dual-enrollment agreements between public high schools and community colleges (Reisberg, 1998), and according to data gathered by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (Russell, 1998), the phenomenon shows no signs of abating. Tech Prep,4 2+2,5 and middle-college high school6 programs are usually built around dual-enrollment agreements. Yet a recent report published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (Johnstone and Del Genio, 2001) finds fault with a number of these dual-enrollment arrangements, including those between 2-year colleges and high schools. Concurrent Enrollment Concurrent-enrollment programs allow high school students to take courses at local colleges or universities for credit while still in high school. One key difference between college courses taught in high school and concurrent enrollment is that students in the latter programs enroll in courses either taught by college faculty at the college’s campus or delivered to the high school site by the college, whether through visits by faculty or electronically. In some cases, school districts cover a portion of the tuition costs, especially if they are unable to meet the educational needs of particular 4   Tech Prep is a nationwide career development system that provides a high school student with a planned program of study that incorporates academic and career-related courses articulated between the secondary and postsecondary levels. The program leads to a diploma, degree, or 2-year apprenticeship certificate. All partners (secondary, postsecondary, and private sector) develop a Tech Prep program cooperatively. The program may also articulate from a community college to a 4-year baccalaureate degree. The program most typically provides technical preparation in a career field such as engineering; technology; applied science; a mechanical, industrial, or practical art or trade; agriculture; health occupations; business; or applied economics. 5   2+2 programs allow students to complete 2 years of a vocational program in high school and the second 2 years at a community college. 6   Students at middle-college high schools usually take high school and college courses on a community college campus. The programs began as a means to serve capable but unsuccessful students. Their purpose is to serve as a transition between high school and college for at-risk youth.

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools students. Students who participate in concurrent-enrollment programs typically earn college credit for their coursework,7 but may or may not earn high school graduation credit. The decision to award high school graduation credit is almost always made by the local school district. Frequently, students who take advantage of this type of arrangement have exceeded the offerings of their home high school in a particular discipline or want to take a course in a discipline not offered at the high school. Concurrent-enrollment opportunities are quite common in mathematics, particularly in geographic areas where there may not be enough students to offer courses such as AP calculus or those beyond AP calculus, such as Multivariate Calculus, Linear Algebra, or Differential Equations. In these cases, students may be allowed to enroll in a nearby college mathematics course with the district covering the college tuition or, in some cases, with the college offering reduced or free tuition as a community service. Students who participate in concurrent-enrollment programs usually attend high school full time and college part time. Concurrent-enrollment options are quite prevalent in colleges. According to a 1997 State Higher Education Executive Officers’ survey,8 approximately 90 percent of postsecondary institutions admit qualified high school students to college courses prior to graduation through concurrent-enrollment agreements. As of 1997, 204,790 students had participated in dual-enrollment, college-in-high-school, or concurrent-enrollment programs during the previous school year. In addition, many colleges and universities offer programs that enable academically advanced and highly motivated students to pursue college-level course work on a part-time basis through early morning, late afternoon, and summer classes. They do so in the belief that concurrent-enrollment programs permit students to supplement high school work with more advanced material, to pursue interests, or to build on special talents. Some colleges also report that they gain from concurrent-enrollment programs an opportunity to recruit highly able students to their campuses for full-time study after graduation from high school. The proliferation of dual-enrollment and concurrent-enrollment programs has sparked debate among professors about whether students are unwisely 7   Colleges routinely accept the credits they have awarded to high school students in their concurrent-enrollment programs. However, transferability to other institutions is generally at the discretion of the receiving institution. In many cases, concurrent-enrollment credits are not deemed transferable if students also use such credits to meet high school graduation requirements. 8   A complete version of the data gathered in the survey, including detailed summaries of the status of college-level learning policies and programming within all 50 states, is available through University Microfilms International, Publication No. 9833590, Volume/Issue 59-05A, 300 North Zeeb Rd., P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346.

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools skipping entry-level classes at the colleges they ultimately attend and ending up in advanced courses for which they are under- or unprepared. A primary concern cited is the lack of standardized plans of instruction for the courses offered in these programs. Also noted is the lack of any general measure of the quality the curriculum or the instruction that could be used in determining whether to award credit or advanced standing to students who earn credit in such programs (Reisberg, 1998). College-Sponsored Enrichment Programs College-sponsored enrichment programs are designed to serve specific populations of students, including talented, minority, and underprepared or unmotivated students. Most postsecondary institutions in the United States offer such programs. The configuration of the programs varies among institutions, but they usually take the form of precollege summer programs or year-long programs and activities that provide enrichment and motivation for students who are underrepresented (e.g., women and minorities in science and engineering)9 or those who are not fully served through conventional programs (e.g., gifted and talented students).10 Precollege summer programs offer students the opportunity to earn college credit in residential summer school programs while living on college campuses. Students usually attend these programs during the summer following the tenth or eleventh grade. Participants typically take regular college courses along with undergraduates from the host institution and other colleges. These programs are usually designed to provide academic enrichment, foster independence, and promote good work habits. Specialized Schools Another vehicle for providing advanced study to secondary students is a specialized school. Most states and many school districts have developed specialized schools that bring together academically talented students and offer them an educational experience geared to their high abilities and their need for peers who share their interests. Specialized schools have proliferated across the country in response to research demonstrating that high- 9   For example, the Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program (SHARP) Program is a national enrichment and support effort aimed at increasing the numbers of qualified minority students in sciences and engineering by offering internships and mentorships to qualified students. (See the discussion of internships and mentorships later in this chapter.) 10   The Center for Talented Youth at The John Hopkins University is an example of a program designed to provide academic enrichment to highly gifted students through flexibly paced courses.

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools ability students develop greater expectations, feel better about themselves, and engage in higher-level processing or discourse when working with other students of similar abilities (Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett, and Karns, 1998). Programs designed to meet the needs of these high-ability learners include governors’ schools, both academic year and summer programs; residential and day academies that specialize in mathematics, science, and technology; charter schools;11 schools-within-a school;12 and magnet schools.13 Admission to most of these programs is highly competitive and selective. The configuration of these specialized schools varies markedly from institution to institution. Some of the programs embrace innovative curricula and instructional approaches; others incorporate and/or expand on programs such as AP or IB; while still others use some of the college-level learning options described above. There are 58 secondary schools that belong to The National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology.14 In addition, there are hundreds of other specialized schools, some of which focus on mathematics and science, which are not members of that organization. Distance Learning Technology has created myriad opportunities to provide advanced study options for students who otherwise might not have access to such programs. As with the other opportunities described in this section, distance learning is a rapidly growing national phenomenon that is configured in a variety of ways, depending on a program’s mission and available technology. 11   A publicly funded school that is formed by legislation rather than by the standard school incorporation process. It has the autonomy to make decisions concerning structure, curriculum, and educational emphasis and is held accountable for the academic achievement of its students by means of its charter (www.uscharterschools.org [November 23, 2001]). 12   A separate and autonomous unit formally authorized by the board of education and/or superintendent that plans and runs its own program, has its own staff and students, and receives its own separate budget. The school-within-a-school usually reports to a district official instead of being responsible to the building principal except in matters of safety; teachers and students typically are affiliated with the school-within-a-school as a matter of choice (Raywid, 1995). 13   A school or education center that offers a special curriculum capable of attracting substantial numbers of students of different racial backgrounds. A key feature of magnet schools is a specialty curriculum designed to embrace a subject matter or teaching methodology not generally offered to students of the same age or grade level under the same local education agency, such as a science–technology center or a center for the performing arts (Magnet School Assistance Program, Title V, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended in 1994). 14   More information can be found at: http://www.ncsssmst.org/ (November 27, 2001).

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools For many years, distance learning was used to meet the needs of home schoolers, students seeking independent study options for acceleration or graduation, and those in rural areas who did not have access to enriched educational options. The movement has grown exponentially during the past decade. State departments of education, commercial enterprises, colleges and universities, and high schools are the most frequent sponsors of distance-learning opportunities. Televised courses were one of the first strategies used for distance learning. For many years, courses were broadcast on network television for adult learners who did not have access to schools. In the past decade, state departments of education have been tapping this resource to provide courses not otherwise available to high school students, particularly in small and rural schools. Although attempts have been made to make televised courses more interactive, they still rely almost exclusively on a lecture format. Teachers conduct classes from electronic classrooms, and students participate by watching the classes at home or at school. Computers, telephones, and fax machines allow students to communicate with the instructor and to ask questions for clarification, but responses are not always immediate. New technology is poised to change this situation. High-speed data networks and online discussions have made communication with telecourse faculty during live broadcasts easier to manage, and the combined use of computers, video cameras, and microphones has created opportunities for live, interactive dialogue between students and faculty that can be heard by other students in different locations. Nonetheless, little is known about the quality of learning that can be supported by televised courses, and the committee notes that further research on this strategy is necessary. In discussing the viability of using televised courses for the advanced study of science, the committee noted several additional problems. These include providing laboratory experiences primarily by demonstration.15 The committee believes research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of this practice in supporting learning with understanding and that alternatives should be investigated if necessary. Another concern is the inability of telefaculty to gain a clear understanding of students’ conceptions and misconceptions and to adjust teaching to reflect students’ initial understandings. Additionally, there is little opportunity in the context of a televised lecture to encourage the development of students’ metacognitive skills. 15   Alternatives to demonstration include the use of regional centers for laboratory work and agreements with high schools and colleges to offer the laboratory component. In these cases, students must report to a central location at specified times. Other alternatives include the use of micro laboratories that can be conducted by students in their homes.

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools Web-Based Courses Web-based courses are offered over the Internet. Internet-based distance learning makes it possible for commercial enterprises, as well as nonprofits such as universities, to deliver courses to students on a for-profit basis. Some of these offerings are single courses;16 others are part of a system, such as a virtual high school or university. A compelling feature of online courses, according to many observers, is their flexibility and accessibility. Students can download a lecture when it is convenient to do so and can have access to data, demonstrations, and immediate feedback when they need them. In some cases, interactive features are used; for example, students can be given an assessment and its results used to tailor instruction for them. The committee found that the number of Web-based courses is increasing rapidly but that there is little empirical data to support their creators’ claims of effectiveness in achieving the stated learning objectives. In fact, issues noted above with regard to televised courses also exist for many Web-based courses. In addition, students enrolled in Web-based courses often work alone, without other students or a teacher present (see Chapter 6, this volume, for a discussion of the social nature of learning).17 More research is needed to evaluate the quality of learning that is supported by Web-based courses and the ways in which technology can be used to support learning with understanding. Indeed, there has recently been some concern expressed that AP courses taught via the Internet are not adequately preparing students for the examination (Carr, 2001; Kuehn, 200118). The College Board is interested in taking a more active role in monitoring Web-based AP courses to ensure that program standards are being met (CFAPP, 2001). Many of the committee’s concerns related to the effectiveness of Web-based courses used for advanced study in mathematics and science are echoed in a report recently released by the Web-Based Education Commission.19 This report acknowledges that the Internet has great potential to 16   APEX Learning Systems and Class.com are examples of Web-based programs offered by for-profit organizations. The effectiveness of these programs in achieving their goals has recently been questioned by parents, students, and teachers, who have found the learning outcomes to fall short of what was promised by the program developers (Carr, 5/25/2001). 17   Televised courses offered in high schools frequently have a teacher’s assistant in the classroom with students as they are viewing the course on television. 18   Available at http://www.californiastar.com/courses.html (January 15, 2001). 19   The Web-based Education Commission was established by the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998. Its 16 members were appointed by President Clinton, Education Secretary Richard Riley, and the Democratic and Republican leadership of Congress. The full report is available at http://www.ed.gov/offices/AC/WBEC/FinalReport/ (November 23, 2001).

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools address many challenges facing schools and students, but emphasizes that content available for learning on the Web currently is variable in quality: some is excellent, but much is mediocre. To date, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on developing the technology, but “… dazzling technology has no value unless it supports content that meets the needs of learners” (Education Commission to the President of the United States, 2000, p. 12). Virtual high schools are a rapidly increasing phenomenon (Carr, 2000). Many evolve from virtual universities and are sponsored by a postsecondary institution. Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah, and West Virginia have all started or are planning to start statewide virtual high schools. States that have previously had such programs in place include California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. While all of the state virtual high schools are organized and financed slightly differently, many appear to adhere to a model in which the virtual high school is a division of the virtual university and shares the same infrastructure. Nearly all university-sponsored virtual high schools started with AP-level courses, but they now are drawing on a variety of different sources to supply the online courses offered. Several plan to purchase courses from APEX Online Learning, which focuses on creating and delivering online AP courses; others are developing their own courses by contracting with teachers or schools for the use of courses created by virtual high schools in other states (Carr, 2000). A model for a virtual high school that is not affiliated with a single college or university is the Virtual High School Project, a collaboration among high schools from around the country. In exchange for contributing a small amount of teaching time, a participating school can offer its students NetCourses ranging from advanced academic to technical and specialized courses. Schools donate computers, Internet connectivity, and staff time. Each school also provides a site coordinator who is responsible for project management and support of teachers and students at the local school. Teachers must successfully complete The Teachers Learning Conference, a graduate-level NetCourse designed to expose participants to educational strategies and technologies for NetCourse teaching. Computer-Based Multimedia Courses Computer-based multimedia courses combine online technology with CD-ROM, video conferencing, electronic communication, Web-based laboratory, and other technologies. These courses allow for self-paced instruction that is tailored to the individual’s needs; students can spend as little or as much time as necessary to master a concept. Some include contact with live tutors.

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools The Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) at Stanford University sponsors a computer-based, multimodel delivery system that exemplifies this approach. The courses use a combination of CD-ROM and Internet technologies to provide students with a multifaceted, highly individualized learning environment. The courses are organized around lectures that are computer-based and multimedia, consisting of voice accompanied by synchronized graphics. The program is designed to allow flexible pacing of instruction. Students who demonstrate ready mastery move quickly through a course, while slower learners receive additional instruction. Formative evaluation of student progress through ongoing data collection and analysis is a key component of the program and is used to adjust instruction for individual students. In all courses, lectures are followed by exercises in which students answer questions that are evaluated by the computer. Additional computer-based instruction and practice are provided to students whose responses to these questions indicate that they need further assistance. In addition, human instructors provide support to these and other students by telephone and electronic mail, as well as through a virtual classroom. To participate in a virtual classroom, students connect via the Internet, using voice and shared whiteboard conferencing software to create a real-time interactive lecture environment. The committee did not have the opportunity to fully evaluate the Stanford program, but notes that it appears to be a promising model worthy of further evaluation. In evaluating this or other computer-based programs, the focus should be on how well the curricula, instruction, and companion assessment techniques align with the principles of learning with understanding detailed in Chapter 6 of this volume. Student achievement—the ultimate indicator of program effectiveness—should be measured by assessing not only students’ command of factual knowledge, but also their conceptual understanding of the subject matter and their ability to apply that knowledge to learning new concepts. ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES Even in schools with strong curricular and instructional resources, educators seek to create activities that will enhance and enrich student learning. With the exception of some national academic and research competitions, most of these activities are the product of collaborations involving individual localities; postsecondary institutions; professional organizations; or research entities, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Enrichment activities are typically targeted at high-ability learners, students with strong interests or talent in a

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools particular discipline, and members of groups who are underrepresented in particular occupations. Internships and Mentorships Eminent individuals tend to have been profoundly influenced by a single or several mentors or role models (Goertzel, Goertzel, and Goertzel, 1978; Kaufmann, Harrel, Milam, Woolverton, and Miller, 1986; Torrance, 1984). Internships and mentorships can provide students with such experiences. Internship programs expose students to research and career development opportunities through placement in research facilities or industries. These placements can be during the summer, part time during the school year, or longer term. Research facilities, large government agencies, local colleges, and university scientists all sponsor internships. NIH and NASA both offer research opportunities to high school students. Individual teachers frequently arrange for their students to participate in internships and research activities in local laboratories or universities. The committee learned of many teachers who have marshaled the resources of their communities to provide meaningful experiences for science and mathematics students. We recognize the extraordinary amount of time and energy required to arrange these types of activities and commend the efforts of these individuals. There are also numerous summer enrichment opportunities that enable students to participate in specialized and challenging programs of advanced study. Some of these programs are designed to address the needs of high-ability learners seeking opportunities to work on problems that are not strictly defined so they can help structure their own learning experiences. An example of this type of program is the nationally recognized Arnold Ross program for advanced mathematics students, held annually at Ohio State University.20 Another nationally recognized initiative is the Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists at Boston University.21 Others, such as the University of California’s Early Outreach Program, focus on compensatory and motivational activities that encourage and support students in efforts to be successful in more advanced curricula.22 Many U.S. colleges and universities sponsor this type of program. 20   Additional information about this program is available at http://www.math.ohio-state.edu/ ross/ (November 23, 2001). 21   Additional information about this program is available at http://math.bu.edu/INDIVIDUAL/promys/indice.html (November 23, 2001). 22   See http://uga.berkeley.edu/apa/APA%20Home/eaop/default.htm (November 23, 2001).

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools Academic and Research Competitions Many students participate in activities that require them to develop expertise through self-directed research or intense study of a topical area and then demonstrate their learning by participating in a competition. Some academic and research competitions are geared toward participation by teams of students; others are designed for individual participants. The goal of most academic competitions is to provide a competitive outlet for students who are particularly talented or interested in an area or subject by encouraging them to engage in problem-solving activities that are complex and challenging. Examples of these types of programs include science fairs, mathematics and science Olympiads, the Intel and Duracell/National Science Teachers Association science competitions, inventors’ competitions, and bridge-building competitions. External judging is usually a component of these programs. Coaching and mentorship are important aspects of the preparation students receive. Critics of such competitions cite disparities in the resources available to students and the negative aspects of encouraging competitiveness instead of the cooperation that is more in keeping with the way modern science is conducted in the field. Some worry about the lack of participation by students who have the ability to undertake such work but have not had opportunities in their schools to demonstrate this ability. Thus, these critics say, the competitions reward those who already have access to greater resources and opportunities. Proponents cite the unique opportunity these activities provide for students to engage in problem-solving activities not typically available through classroom curricula. Alternative Curricular and Instructional Approaches Students and schools differ in many ways that are important to teaching and learning. Consequently, no single course structure or approach, including those as widely used as AP and IB, can meet the educational needs of every high school student who is ready for advanced study. For example, not all schools have adequate resources (physical, financial, or human) to teach high-quality AP courses, and implementing IB requires a level of schoolwide commitment that not all schools are prepared or able to undertake. Additionally, the goals and objectives of individual schools vary in accordance with their local communities’ educational values and beliefs. State educational standards that describe what students who are educated in the state should know and be able to do at particular grade levels play an important role in determining what is taught and the way instruction and curriculum are organized. This variation underscores the need for alternatives to the AP and IB programs.

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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools The committee suggests, however, that before adopting any curriculum for advanced study, those responsible for selecting programs do two things. The first is to evaluate the programs under consideration for alignment with the principles of learning outlined in this and other reports, such as How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Expanded Edition) (National Research Council, 2000b). In so doing, it is important to ensure that the program not only moves students along the learning continuum by increasing their content knowledge, but also fosters a deep conceptual understanding of the subject matter. Second is to assess whether the school has the necessary infrastructure and resources to implement the program successfully, including qualified teachers and adequate time and money to provide ongoing, high-quality professional development opportunities for members of the staff who will be responsible for implementing the program (see Chapter 7, this volume). CONCLUSION The two extant national models for advanced study (AP and IB) cannot meet the educational needs of all students. The committee learned of many advanced study alternatives that have been developed by individual schools and school districts, sometimes in conjunction with universities. While the committee applauds local efforts to develop original advanced study programs, we believe such programs are not enough, and additional national programs are needed. This call for more national programs stems from research identifying the benefits that accrue when students and teachers are part of national educational efforts. In calling for more national programs, the committee wishes to be quite clear that we are not asking for more programs that merely replicate those that already exist. Rather, the committee urges universities, policymakers, and curriculum specialists to encourage the development, evaluation, and dissemination of information about promising alternatives that can help increase access to advanced study for students from diverse backgrounds and communities, as well as those whose learning styles or interests are not adequately addressed by existing national programs.