Tag Archives: AP courses

Cambridge International Exams trying to make inroads into AP and International Baccalaureate turf

11 Dec

Moi wrote about “advanced placement” or AP courses in Who should take AP classes?
AP courses tend to attract students who are preparing for college and are very goal oriented. So, what if a student either doesn’t want to go to college or may want a career, should they take AP courses? Since the average person, according to Career Information Online will have three to five careers over the course of a life time, the best advice to everyone is prepare for any eventuality. Even if students don’t attend college after high school, they may attend later as part of a career change. Many former automobile workers are now getting college degrees in nursing and other fields, for example.
Huffington Post is reported in the article, AP Exams: Most Students Who Should Be Taking The Tests Aren’t:

More than 60 percent of students considered to have AP potential didn’t take the exam last year, even though their PSAT scores showed they could perform well on one, according to a College Board report released last week. Overall, black, Latino and Native American students were less likely to take AP exams than their white and Asian counterparts….

The question is not only should a particular student should take AP courses, but whether the choice should be between AP courses or an International Baccalaureate. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/14/who-should-take-ap-classes/

Caralee Adams reported in the Education Week article, Racial and Income Gaps Persist in AP and IB Enrollment:

Each year, about 640,000 low-income students and students of color are “missing” from AP and IB participation—students who could benefit if they merely enrolled at the same rate as other students in their schools, the report says.
It is not just a matter access. About 1 million students do not attend schools that offer AP, and the authors note that only a small percentage of the gaps by race or family income can be accounted for by which schools do and do not offer the classes.
In many cases, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not enrolling in existing programs…

Education Trust released this information about Finding America’s Missing AP and IB Students. http://www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/Missing_Students.pdf

Caralee J. Adams wrote in the Education Week article, Cambridge Academic Program Makes Inroads in U.S.: Critical thinking, writing are central:

For more than 800 years, the University of Cambridge has been educating students on its stately and historic campus in the heart of England. But the esteemed British institution’s reach goes much farther, and it’s now working aggressively to expand a menu of precollegiate offerings in U.S. schools.
The university owns and operates the Cambridge International Exams, part of a nonprofit division that provides academic courses of study in various subjects with a focus on promoting critical thinking, in-depth analysis, and strong writing skills. It currently serves more than 9,000 schools in 160 countries and students ages 5 to 19.
Cambridge is still a relatively small player in the United States, especially in comparison with the ubiquitous Advanced Placement program. But it has seen rapid growth in recent years. It now provides college-preparatory curricula for about 230 U.S. schools at the elementary and secondary levels in 27 states, up from 80 schools in 2009. This year, 50,000 Cambridge exams were taken by high school students here, a 50 percent increase from 2012…
Analyzing and Synthesizing
While most programs are in public high schools, Cambridge offers curricula for elementary and middle schools, too. At all levels, students are assessed on their progress at year’s end, with high school courses culminating in extensive exams that can translate into college credit.
Michael J. O’Sullivan, who joined Cambridge International Exams last spring as the new chief executive officer, has high hopes for its foray into the U.S. market. He notes that the nation’s decentralized education system and emphasis on school choice make it attractive. And he’s also making the case that the Cambridge program dovetails closely with the Common Core State Standards adopted by all but four states….
The Cambridge approach is designed to be rigorous and deep. In history courses, for example, rather than memorize dates and take multiple-choice tests, students dig into research through primary sources, develop arguments, and present their findings. End-of-course exams require analyzing and synthesizing information in a writing-intensive format.
Math and science instruction is often integrated to allow students to apply what they’ve learned across courses. A math course might include various topics, and, in some courses, teachers can customize the syllabus to choose a combination of pure math, statistics, and mechanics to build a path to the exam, based on the needs and interests of students.
At the elementary and middle school levels, the Cambridge program is focused on English/language arts, math, and science. At high school, however, it offers some 70 courses, including biology, economics, and world literature.
For high school students, the Cambridge exams last six to eight hours over a few days. Multiple-choice questions are limited, with a focus instead on essays, analysis, and even hands-on science labs included in assessments.
Despite the increased Cambridge presence in U.S. schools, it is dwarfed by the AP program, which gave 3.4 million exams to U.S. public high school students last year. And while Cambridge operates in more schools globally than the International Baccalaureate program—which is seen as another competitor—Cambridge falls well short of the nearly 1,500 U.S. high schools now served by the IB. Still, the United States is the fastest-growing market for Cambridge, according to Mr. O’Sullivan, the CEO….
Examine the Claims
To become a Cambridge school, schools must pay a registration fee and annual membership dues to have access to online materials and training. There’s also a charge for each exam. The high-school-level exams typically run between $78 and $86 per student, per subject. The norm is for students to take three or four.
But before outsourcing curriculum, Jack Schneider, an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worchester, Mass., cautions that school officials closely examine the claims of programs. Cambridge, in particular, has a prestige factor that needs to align with the merits of the program, notes Mr. Schneider, who has researched college-prep curricula.
“It might look better than it really is. What are people really excited about? Are students actually learning more, or are parents excited to have a branded program?” he said.
A 2011 study of the Cambridge program in the United States, published in the College & University Journal, said students generally described the program as motivating and stimulating, and more challenging than other curricula. Teachers said the courses prompted students to form their own opinions and gain real-world application of subject knowledge.
Meanwhile, a 2011 case study focused on the academic achievement of freshmen at Florida State University who had successfully earned a Cambridge diploma credential. The research, published in the Journal of College Admissions, suggests the program may offer some academic benefits later on, but it was not an experimental study.
How schools choose to offer the Cambridge program varies. Some high schools have students take a full schedule of Cambridge courses, while others give students the choice to take a class or two in their areas of strength. If students take a certain number of exams in various subjects, they can earn a Cambridge diploma credential.

Here is what Cambridge says about their programs:

About Cambridge
•Cambridge International Examinations is the world’s largest provider of international education programmes and qualifications for 5 to 19 year olds.
•Over 9000 schools in more than 160 countries offer Cambridge programmes and qualifications.
•We are a division of Cambridge Assessment, a not-for-profit organisation and part of the world-renowned University of Cambridge.
•In 2008, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the formation of our parent organisation Cambridge Assessment, and in 2009 we celebrated the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge.
Our programmes and qualifications
•Cambridge Primary is taught in over 650 schools worldwide.
•Every year we receive more than 54000 entries for Cambridge Checkpoint, our tests for 11 to 14 year olds.
•Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16 year olds. It is taken in over 140 countries and in more than 3700 schools.
•2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the first Cambridge IGCSE exam.
•Every year we have more than 650 000 subject entries for Cambridge O Level from 80 countries.
•Cambridge International AS and A Levels are taken in more than 125 countries with 350 000 entries each year.
•We developed Cambridge Pre-U, an alternative to A Level for UK schools. It prepares students for university and was first examined in June 2010.
•Cambridge Pre-U is taught in over 150 UK state and independent schools.
•We hold more than 16 000 training days a year providing 6500 teachers from across the globe with the skills and knowledge they need to help their students succeed.
•Cambridge examinations are marked by around 9000 highly skilled examiners.
•We produce around 5.7 million question papers each year.
About us http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/
Who we are http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/
What we do http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/
Our regional teams http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/our-regional-teams/
Our standards http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/our-standards/
Facts and figures

Moi wrote in Race, class, and education in America:
Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity; one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.
A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html?pagewanted=all describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class http://www.nytimes.com/pages/national/class/


Stanford University report: Advanced placement may not be the cure for education ills https://drwilda.com/2013/04/30/stanford-university-report-advanced-placement-may-not-be-the-cure-for-education-ills/

An interesting critique of the College Board’s AP test report https://drwilda.com/2013/03/10/an-interesting-critique-of-the-college-boards-ap-test-report/

The International Baccalaureate program as a way to save struggling schools https://drwilda.com/2012/04/30/international-baccalaureate/

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