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New AP Courses to Foster Independent Research Skills

The College Board has just announced plans to pilot two new Advanced Placement courses that will seek to develop students' skills in critical thinking and conducting independent research, my colleague Caralee Adams reports over at the College Bound blog. Admissions counselors say such skills are too often missing among high school graduates, she notes.

The new program for juniors and seniors, developed in collaboration with Cambridge International Examinations, will be tested over three years in 15 to 18 high schools starting next fall.

The AP/Cambridge Interdisciplinary Investigations and Critical Reasoning Seminar will be offered in 11th grade, Caralee notes. Students will work in teams to research and write about topics of global relevance. In the 12th grade course, students will write a 4,500 to 5,000-word paper that will be evaluated on the students' ability to design, plan, and manage a research project, analyze information, and communicate their findings.

The research courses are not designed to replicate a college course, but rather to prepare students for college-level work and serve as an indication of readiness for admission to elite colleges.

Speaking of AP, I recently wrote a story about which courses are most popular today, and which ones are seeing the most rapid growth. Among the subjects seeing big growth are geography, environmental science, and Chinese.

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