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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools
What percentage of students who take AP chemistry take it as their first course in chemistry? How well do these students fare in the course and subsequently in college chemistry courses?
What proportion of students who take AP or IB chemistry do not take the examinations? What effect does the resulting lack of information about student learning have on the quality and quality control of the AP program in individual schools and on the AP program overall?
Are there advantages to having schools offer clusters of advanced study courses as opposed to isolated courses? What is the impact of not doing so (for example, in small high schools that can support only one or two advanced study courses that may not be connected with each other)?
Are there “critical masses” in the number of teachers in a school who teach advanced study courses? In other words, do differences in opportunities for isolated teachers to communicate with colleagues translate into differences in learning and achievement of their students?
Are there “critical masses” in the number of students who enroll in advanced study courses? Are students who enroll in such courses either individually (e.g., through distance learning courses) or in small numbers at an advantage or disadvantage relative to students who are enrolled in very large classes?
What percentage of schools have prerequisites or other screening procedures for entry into advanced study courses? Do more stringent requirements for entry into such courses translate into differences in scores on the respective assessments?
What kinds of physical facilities, equipment and instrumentation, and support for laboratories are available to teachers and students in advanced study programs in the experimental sciences? Do differences in the level and availability of such resources have an impact on student learning and performance?
Are there differences in student performance on advanced study examinations in districts or states that provide incentives to students to do well as compared with students in districts or states that do not offer these kinds of incentives?