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484 All Charge to the Content Panels from the Parent Committee Charge to the Parent Committee and Content Panels: The charge to the committee is to consider the effectiveness of, and potential improve- ments to, programs for advanced study of mathematics and science in Ameri- can high schools. In response to the charge, the committee will consider the two most widely recognized programs for advanced study: the Advanced Placement (AP) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. In addi- tion, the committee will identify and examine other appropriate curricular and instructional alternatives to IB and AP. Emphasis will be placed on the mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology programs of study. Charge to Content Panels: The content panels are asked to evaluate the AP and IB curricular, instructional, and assessment materials for their . a. .. . .. speclrlc alsclpllnes. Below is a list of questions that the content panels will use to examine the curriculum, laboratory experiences, and student assessments for their specific subject areas. The content panels will use these questions to issue a report to the committee about the effectiveness of the AP and IB programs for educating able high school students in their respective disciplines. In answering these questions, the content panels should keep in mind the committee's charge and study questions. The panels should focus on the following specific issues in advising the committee: I. CURRICULAR AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS FOR LEARNING Research on cognition suggests that learning and understanding are fa- cilitated when students: (1) have a strong foundation of background knowl- edge, (2) are taught and understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (3) learn how to organize information to facili-
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PHYSICS tare retrieval and application in new contexts (see, e.g., National Research Council ENRCI, 20001. 1. To what degree do the AP and IB programs incorporate current knowl- edge about cognition and learning in mathematics and science in their cur- ricula, instructions, and assessments? 2. To what degree is the factual base of information that is provided by the AP and Il3 curricula and related laboratory experiences adequate for advanced high school study in your discipline? 3. Based on your evaluation of the materials that you received, to what extent do the AP and IB curricula and assessments balance breadth of cov- erage with in-depth study of important topics in the subject area? In your opinion, is this balance an appropriate one for advanced high school learn- ers? 4. Are there key concepts (big ideas) of your discipline around which factual information and ideas should be organized to promote conceptual understanding in advanced study courses (e.g., Newton's laws in physics)? To what degree are the AP and IB curricula and related laboratory experi- ences organized around these identified key concepts? 5. To what degree do the AP and IB curricula and related laboratory experiences provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge to a range of problems and in a variety of contexts? 6. To what extent do the AP and IB curricula and related laboratory experiences encourage students and teachers to make connections among the various disciplines in science and mathematics? II. To ROLE OF ASSESSMENT Research and experience indicate that assessments of student learning play a key role in determining what and how teachers teach and what and how students learn. 1. Based on your evaluation of the IB and AP final assessments and accompanying scoring guides and rubrics, evaluate to what degree these assessments measure or emphasize: a) students' mastery of content knowledge; b) students' understanding and application of concepts; and c) students' ability to apply what they have learned to other courses and in other situations. 2. To what degree do the AP and IB final assessments assess student mastery of your disciplinary subject at a level that is consistent with expec- tations for similar courses that are taught at the college level? 485
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486 CONTENT PANEL REPORT III. TEACHING Research and experience indicate that learning is facilitated when teach- ers use a variety of techniques that are purposefully selected to achieve particular learning goals. 1. How effectively do the AP and IB curricula and assessments encour- age teachers to use a variety of teaching techniques (e.g., lecture, discus- sion, laboratory experience and independent investigation)? 2. What preparation is needed to effectively teach advanced mathemat- ics and science courses such as AP and IB? IV. EMPHASES The NRC's National Science Education Standards and the National Coun- cil of Teachers of Mathematics' Standards 2000 propose that the emphases of science and mathematics education should change in particular ways (see supplemental materials). 1. To what degree do the AP and IB programs reflect the recommenda- tions in these documents? V. PREPARATION FOR FURTHER STUDY Advanced study at the high school level is often viewed as preparation for continued study at the college level or as a substitute for introductory- level college courses. 1. To what extent do the AP and IB curricula, assessments, and related laboratory experiences in your discipline serve as adequate and appropriate bases for success in college courses beyond the introductory level? 2. To what degree do the AP and IB programs in your discipline reflect changes in knowledge or approaches that are emerging (or have recently occurred) in your discipline? 3. How might coordination between secondary schools and institutions of higher education be enhanced to optimize student learning and contin- ued interest in the discipline?