Evaluation of the Sustainability and Effectiveness of AP Science Courses | SRI International

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high school students in a lab setting, looking at a microscope

Evaluation of the Sustainability and Effectiveness of AP Science Courses

SRI and partners will provide the first evaluation of inquiry-based advanced placement science classes.

The advanced placement (AP) curriculum developed by the College Board aims to prepare high school students for the rigor of college coursework. In collaboration with NSF, the NRC, and educators across the nation, the Board is revising AP science courses to better develop students’ ability to conduct scientific inquiry. The revised courses emphasize depth of scientific inquiry and practice as opposed to the acquisition of limited knowledge in many content areas. The new courses in biology and chemistry will be launched in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

SRI, working in collaboration with The University of Washington (UW) and George Washington University (GWU), is conducting the implementation and impact study of the new AP science curriculum. This study hopes to produce findings that can be used by the College Board and educators to strengthen the teaching of advanced science courses in high school.

The study team recruited and provided resources to approximately 38 high-needs schools in 7 states to launch a new inquiry-based AP Biology or Chemistry course, and randomly assigned students within the recruited schools to take the newly offered courses. To document the fidelity of AP course implementation, SRI is conducting surveys, interviews, and observations of teachers and students in the AP courses, and providing real-time feedback to educators. The impact study will determine the effects of the scaled-up by using a locally developed inquiry-based assessment aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. This assessment and a survey are being used to assess students’ ability to conduct scientific inquiry and their overall educational performance and aspirations, including the number, quality, and type of colleges to which students apply and enroll. The five-year study will also examine variation in the effects of the new courses according to students’ prior level of preparation and the level of fidelity with which the courses are implemented. Results from the study will be available in 2017.

Project Director: Raymond McGhee