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Introduction

The National Research Council’s (NRC) Committee on Programs for Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in American High Schools (parent committee) formed a chemistry panel to compare and evaluate the Advanced Placement (AP), the International Baccalaureate (IB), and alternative programs for advanced study in chemistry with respect to their pedagogy, content, assessments, and outcomes (the charge to the panel is presented in Appendix B). The chemistry panel met twice (in June and July 2000) to address its charge from the parent committee. The panel was chaired by a member of the parent committee, who served as liaison to the committee and consolidated the panel’s findings and recommendations into this report. Panel members also included high school chemistry teachers with AP, IB, and New York State Regents examination experience, along with experienced college and university chemistry professors noted for their work in chemical education. Biographical sketches of chemistry panel members are provided in Appendix A.

Neither independent researchers nor the AP or IB program has published systematic data about the programs. Thus few data on the ways in which AP and IB courses are actually implemented in U.S. high schools, the long-term consequences to students who take AP or IB courses, or the effects of an increasing number of students who arrive at college with multiple AP and IB credits to use toward advanced placement or to meet graduation requirements were available to the panel. Because important data about the programs have not yet been published by either the programs or independent researchers, the panel focused its analysis on what the programs say they do, using available program materials such as course guides, released examinations, teacher manuals, program goals, and mission statements.

The chemistry panel carefully reviewed a substantial volume of background materials related to the AP and IB programs; those materials are listed in Appendix C. The findings and recommendations reached by the panel and presented in this report were consensus opinions, arrived at by reading the background materials and holding extensive discussions. Panel members also contributed written materials that were incorporated into this final report.

The remainder of this report is divided into four chapters. Chapter 2 presents an overview of advanced study in chemistry for high school students. Chapters 3 through 5 respond to the questions under the panel’s charge. Chapter 3 focuses on the students who enroll in the AP Chemistry course and the IB program, what is taught and how well it is being taught, the grade levels at which these advanced courses are offered, and the background and prerequisites



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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools - Report of the Content Panel for Chemistry 1 Introduction The National Research Council’s (NRC) Committee on Programs for Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in American High Schools (parent committee) formed a chemistry panel to compare and evaluate the Advanced Placement (AP), the International Baccalaureate (IB), and alternative programs for advanced study in chemistry with respect to their pedagogy, content, assessments, and outcomes (the charge to the panel is presented in Appendix B). The chemistry panel met twice (in June and July 2000) to address its charge from the parent committee. The panel was chaired by a member of the parent committee, who served as liaison to the committee and consolidated the panel’s findings and recommendations into this report. Panel members also included high school chemistry teachers with AP, IB, and New York State Regents examination experience, along with experienced college and university chemistry professors noted for their work in chemical education. Biographical sketches of chemistry panel members are provided in Appendix A. Neither independent researchers nor the AP or IB program has published systematic data about the programs. Thus few data on the ways in which AP and IB courses are actually implemented in U.S. high schools, the long-term consequences to students who take AP or IB courses, or the effects of an increasing number of students who arrive at college with multiple AP and IB credits to use toward advanced placement or to meet graduation requirements were available to the panel. Because important data about the programs have not yet been published by either the programs or independent researchers, the panel focused its analysis on what the programs say they do, using available program materials such as course guides, released examinations, teacher manuals, program goals, and mission statements. The chemistry panel carefully reviewed a substantial volume of background materials related to the AP and IB programs; those materials are listed in Appendix C. The findings and recommendations reached by the panel and presented in this report were consensus opinions, arrived at by reading the background materials and holding extensive discussions. Panel members also contributed written materials that were incorporated into this final report. The remainder of this report is divided into four chapters. Chapter 2 presents an overview of advanced study in chemistry for high school students. Chapters 3 through 5 respond to the questions under the panel’s charge. Chapter 3 focuses on the students who enroll in the AP Chemistry course and the IB program, what is taught and how well it is being taught, the grade levels at which these advanced courses are offered, and the background and prerequisites

OCR for page 1
Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools - Report of the Content Panel for Chemistry needed to take and succeed in the courses. Chapter 4 addresses those who teach AP and IB Chemistry courses, including their academic preparation, credentials, and appropriateness for the task. Chapter 5 provides an analysis of the assessments and outcomes associated with the AP Chemistry course, the IB Chemistry program, and their affiliated examinations. Throughout these chapters, key findings appear in italic type. The report concludes in Chapter 6 with a summary and recommendations regarding the AP Chemistry course and the IB program, including the panel’s consideration of whether advanced study options in high school should be associated with opportunities for students to earn college or university credit.