To improve the quality of math and science programs for high-achieving high school students, the National Research Council recommends in a new report that:
- All such programs have the goal of helping students “achieve a deep conceptual understanding of [a subject’s] content and unifying concepts.” To reach that goal, a program’s curriculum should shy away from “exhaustive coverage of content.”
- Teachers of those courses give students time to engage “in inquiry by providing opportunities to experiment, analyze information critically, make conjectures and argue about their validity, and solve problems both individually and in groups.”
- Programs employ regular assessment of student learning to guide instruction. The end-of-course exams should be the final step in the process of certifying a student’s mastery of a subject.
- Schools ensure that students are ready to take advanced courses in high school by offering them a curriculum starting in middle school that prepares them.
- Organizations craft alternative programs to the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, in search of “novel and effective strategies.”
A version of this article appeared in the February 20, 2002 edition of Education Week as Educating High Achievers