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Researchers to Study Revised AP Science With NSF Grant

Recently revamped Advanced Placement offerings in biology and chemistry will be the focus of a four-year, $2.6 million research grant, with a focus on implementation and student outcomes.

Just this month, the College Board announced the completion of a redesign of AP Physics (as well as U.S. History), for rollout in 2014-15. In fact, the new AP Physics offering will replace one yearlong course (Physics B) with two yearlong courses.

The revised AP Biology program took effect this school year, with the revamped AP Chemistry starting up in 2013-14. Key changes in the science courses include covering less content in greater depth and a stronger emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

The research will provide "the first experimental evidence on the effects of taking an inquiry-based AP science course and whether it impacts students' educational progress and success in ... STEM subjects," according to a press release issued yesterday.

The grant from the National Science Foundation will support work by researchers at the University of Washington, George Washington University, and SRI International. It will involve 40 high schools nationwide, including more than 4,000 11th and 12th grade students.

"This study comes at a time when districts and schools are rapidly expanding their AP offerings and encouraging all students, especially those coming from underrepresented minority groups, to take challenging courses," said Raymond McGhee, a senior researcher at SRI International, in the press release. "We anticipate that our study results will inform educators and policymakers as they develop programs to support college readiness."

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