viding funds for materials and supplies for AP courses, offering incentives for initiating AP courses or hosting training sessions, encouraging or mandating publicly funded colleges and universities to accept AP credit, and/or supporting professional development opportunities. State policies related to IB are less well established.11
For many years, policymakers have focused on making advanced-level courses available to all students who are interested in participating. That goal has not yet been accomplished, but educators and policymakers have increased their efforts to provide many more students with equitable opportunities to learn and succeed in these courses. As discussed later in this chapter, the success of these efforts will depend on whether educational leaders assign top priority to increasing the number of underrepresented minority students who both are enrolled in advanced study and achieve at high levels.
Reform is an ongoing and recurring theme in American education. The latest wave of educational reform, highlighted by calls for standards and accountability, began a little more than a decade ago. These efforts, which have garnered the broad-based support of education policymakers, business leaders, many educators, and the public, rest on three basic tenets: (1) all students should be held to the same high standards for learning; (2) high standards should serve as a basis for systems of assessment that can be used for the purpose of accountability; and (3) consequences should be imposed on schools, teachers, and sometimes students when students do not meet the established standards (Linn, 2000).
In the early 1990s, attempts at developing national standards for several subject areas met with varying degrees of success. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) published Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993), which contains science content standards based on a previous publication, Science for All Americans (AAAS, 1989). These publications outlined what the citizens of the United States should know about science. In 1996, the National Research Council (NRC) published the National Science Education Standards (NSES), a consensus document based on input from hundreds of scientists, science educators, and professional societies. The NSES relate to science content, teaching, teacher development, assessment, and the infrastructure required to support effective science education.
The committee noted that Florida has instituted a state scholarship program that allows Florida students who graduate with an IB diploma to attend any state university for free. California recently enacted legislation that grants sophomore standing in college to students who earn an IB diploma in high school.