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The fourth "R": rigorous. (Language Arts & Math).

The College Board wants to add an adjective to the reading, writing and 'rithmetic basics taught in schools. "We know that school districts have a set of curriculum goals that they expect all the children to learn," says Peter Negroni, senior vice president of the association's K-12 division. "But we don't believe it's been rigorous enough." In fact, the College Board would like to see the number of Advanced Placement test-takers grow tenfold.

"We feel not enough kids are taking [AP] because they're not prepared for it. They can be prepared if they have the proper set of materials," Negroni says.

To achieve this goal of getting students ready for Advanced Placement courses and college-level work in general, the College Board is broadening its efforts to include lower grade levels. In the fall of 2001, a GE Fund grant launched a mathematics initiative for grades 6-12 to create an integrated system of curriculum, diagnostic assessment and teacher professional development. A similar initiative followed this spring, when the association launched a language arts program with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The programs are designed to reach all students, especially minorities and those who are academically at-risk and from low-income households. Math and language arts materials have been implemented in grade 12 (as the Pacesetter program) and are being piloted in grades 9-11. The materials for grades 6-8 are in development.

Included are: instructional materials that reflect national and state standards and are aligned with the courses that proceed and follow them; a set of embedded diagnostic assessments that teachers can use to develop and refine their instruction; a set of research-based, end-of-course assessments to help schools and districts measure progress in boosting student achievement; and a range of on-site and Web-based professional development experiences that correlate with the content and expectations of the instructional materials and assessments.

Districts not involved in piloting the initiatives may purchase the language arts and math programs for the 2003-2004 school year. In addition, Negroni says the College Board is considering the development of a similar program for science.
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Author:Ezarik, Melissa
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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