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Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2002. Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10129.
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Appendix C
Statement of Task

The charge to the committee is to consider the effectiveness of, and potential improvements to, programs for advanced study of mathematics and science in American high schools. In response to the charge, the committee will consider the two most widely recognized programs for advanced study: the Advanced Placement (AP) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. In addition, the committee will identify and examine other appropriate curricular and instructional alternatives to IB and AP. Emphasis will be placed on the mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology programs of study.

I. LEARNING

  1. What does research tell us about how high-school aged students learn science and mathematics? Does this process differ significantly for the most advanced students?

  2. To what extent do the AP and IB or other programs for advanced students incorporate current knowledge about cognition and learning in mathematics and science in their curricula, instruction, and assessments? How could research on cognition and learning be used to improve these programs?

  3. What is the impact of student assessment on the learning process in mathematics and science? How could student assessment be used to improve student learning in advanced courses?

II. TEACHING

  1. What does research tell us about effective instructional practices for high-school aged students generally, and for advanced students in particular?

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2002. Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10129.
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  1. To what extent do AP and IB programs encourage teaching practices that are consistent with current research on effective instructional practices? Are there alternative programs that are more effective in this regard?

  2. How do final assessments generally, and AP and IB assessments in particular, influence instructional practices?

  3. What academic qualifications are needed to teach advanced science and mathematics courses, and how are teachers actually selected?

  4. What does research tell us about how teachers learn to teach, and about effective professional development practices? What does this research imply about the nature and quality of professional development opportunities for teachers offered by programs of advanced study, including AP and IB?

III. CURRICULUM AND STANDARDS

  1. To what extent do the IB and AP programs reflect the best in current thinking about content and curriculum for teaching mathematics and science? Are any alternative programs superior in some respects?

  2. How do the content and performance standards of the AP and IB programs compare with one another and with the NRC National Science Education Standards or those of the Mathematical Association of America or the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics?

  3. To what extent do programs such as AP and IB help to promote and elevate academic standards in high schools, both within individual subject areas and generally?

How do AP and IB standards compare with those used by other programs for advanced study in science and mathematics? How do AP and IB standards compare with those of other technologically advanced nations?

IV. CONTEXT AND CONSEQUENCES

  1. How do the beliefs and values about the purpose of secondary schooling held by the American public influence what courses high schools offer, access to these courses, how the courses are taught, and what students learn in them, particularly in advanced courses in mathematics and science?

  2. What constraints do the culture and resources of American high schools typically place on programs for advanced study?

  3. How can the goal of equitable and broad access to programs for advanced study best be pursued?

  4. How does the interface with higher education affect programs for advanced study in the secondary schools?

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2002. Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10129.
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Page 259
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2002. Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10129.
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This book takes a fresh look at programs for advanced studies for high school students in the United States, with a particular focus on the Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate programs, and asks how advanced studies can be significantly improved in general. It also examines two of the core issues surrounding these programs: they can have a profound impact on other components of the education system and participation in the programs has become key to admission at selective institutions of higher education.

By looking at what could enhance the quality of high school advanced study programs as well as what precedes and comes after these programs, this report provides teachers, parents, curriculum developers, administrators, college science and mathematics faculty, and the educational research community with a detailed assessment that can be used to guide change within advanced study programs.

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