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


Lee Jones, College Board director of AP programs (personal communication), 2001.

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