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).
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.