Next month, the board, the nonprofit organization that owns the A.P. exams as well as the SAT, will release a wholesale revamping of A.P. biology as well as United States history — with 387,000 test-takers the most popular A.P. subject. A preview of the changes shows that the board will slash the amount of material students need to know for the tests and provide, for the first time, a curriculum framework for what courses should look like. The goal is to clear students’ minds to focus on bigger concepts and stimulate more analytic thinking. In biology, a host of more creative, hands-on experiments are intended to help students think more like scientists.Rethinking Advanced Placement - NYT
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“We really believe that the New A.P. needs to be anchored in a curriculum that focuses on what students need to be able to do with their knowledge,” Mr. Packer says. A.P. teachers made clear that such a shift was impossible unless the breadth of material covered was pared down. Courses in English and math are manageable, Mr. Packer says, and will not be revised until later.
The new approach is important because critical thinking skills are considered essential for advanced college courses and jobs in today’s information-based economy. College administrators and veteran A.P. teachers familiar with the new biology curriculum believe the changes could have significant reverberations for how science is taught in introductory college classes and even elementary school classrooms, and might bring some of the excitement back to science learning.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Taking content out of AP courses?
The prospect of paring down the content of any course raises a red flag for me. With so much of today's curriculum appearing to be "content light", it doesn't seem wise to eliminate some of the domain knowledge critical for, well, critical thinking. I will be curious to hear what Daniel Willingham says about this new development.