Appendix A
Charge to the Biology Panel 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 improvements to, programs for advanced study of mathematics and science in American 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 addition, 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 specific disciplines.

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:


Research on cognition suggests that learning and understanding are facilitated when students: (1) have a strong foundation of background knowledge, (2) are taught and understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (3) learn how to organize information to facilitate retrieval and application in new contexts (see, e.g., Bramsford et al., 1999; handouts in packet).

  1. To what degree do the AP and IB programs incorporate current knowledge about cognition and learning in mathematics and science in their curricula, instructions, and assessments?

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