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College Board: Curriculum Guides for Teachers

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The College Board last week introduced a series of curriculum guides for high-school teachers designed to help improve the academic preparation of college-bound students and to encourage teachers to play a greater role in the school-reform movement.

The six booklets--on the arts, English, foreign language, mathematics, science, and social studies--are part of the board's ongoing "Educational EQuality Project," a 10-year program begun in 1981 with the aim of both strengthening the academic quality of secondary education and ensuring that all high-school students have "equality of opportunity" for higher education, College Board officials say.

Successful 'Green Book'

The six booklets were developed as a follow-up to a 1983 College Board publication, Academic Preparation for College: What Students Need To Know and Be Able To Do (also known as "The Green Book"). This publication identified the core academic subjects to which all college-bound students should be exposed. (See Education Week, May 18, 1983.)

College Board officials say the Green Book has had a significant impact on curriculum development at both the local and state levels and is being used in more than a dozen states.

Some states have incorporated all or parts of the Green Book in their curriculum initiatives; others have used it as the basis for developing their own curriculum recommendations, according to James C. Herbert, the board's executive director for academic affairs and the general editor of the teacher handbooks.

Suggestions, Not Prescriptions

The new guides, which focus on the academic subjects listed in the Green Book, are intended to offer "curricular and instructional suggestions" for teachers rather than a "prescription for a particular curriculum," according to the board.

And although they discuss curricula for college-bound students, noted Adrienne Y. Bailey, vice president for academic affairs for the College Board, they also offer suggestions for teaching high-school students who are not planning to attend college.

The six booklets are:

Academic Preparation in the Arts, which considers how art history and appreciation can be integrated with the creative and performing arts. The board suggests that all students need "at least one year of in-depth study" in one of the arts, such as visual arts, theater, music, or dance.

Academic Preparation in English, which emphasizes "the importance of a recursive curriculum in which all aspects of English learning are integrated." Teachers should pay "increased attention" to "the balance between reading and writing within the English curriculum and their integration with speaking and listening," it says.

Academic Preparation in Foreign Language, which stresses the "proficiency" approach to language learning, in which students concentrate on communication skills "immediately" and develop their understanding of grammatical structures "more gradually."

Academic Preparation in Mathematics, which recommends that students take a statistics course and discusses integrating computers and hand calculators into mathematics courses. It also suggests additional courses for students who have been "sidetracked" from the standard sequence of college-preparatory mathematics courses.

Academic Preparation in Science, which suggests that teachers stress the connection between the "formal knowledge" presented in science classes and what students "actually think about the natural world."

Academic Preparation in Social Studies, which emphasizes "new perspectives in social and global history." The booklet also suggests how the study of history might be made "more intellectually and personally engaging for high-school students."

Role of Teachers

The guides will be "most useful" for teachers working with "the middle range of high-school students," who would derive the greatest benefit from time spent in college-preparatory work, according to George H. Hanford, president of the board.

He also expressed the hope that the booklets, which were developed by academic advisory committees of college and high-school educators,would give teachers "a more prominent role" in national efforts to improve secondary education.

The College Board has planned several types of meetings to familiarize teachers with the handbooks, said Mr. Herbert. Over the next eight months, the organization will sponsor 15 colloquia nationwide for high-school and college teachers to consider issues raised by the booklets.

In addition, the six regional offices of the board are currently scheduling orientation workshops for teachers.

Complimentary sets of the booklets will be mailed to selected school officials nationwide beginning in January, Mr. Herbert said. For information on ordering the Green Book and the teacher guides, write the College Board, EQ Achieving Books, 45 Columbus Ave., New York, N.Y. 10023-6917, or call (212) 713-8000.

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