Friday, July 9, 2010

Part 2: International Program Catches On in U.S. Schools- But Eliminated from the Hoboken Public Schools

I received a great deal of attention to a recent post on the decision of the Hoboken Board of Education to eliminate the International Baccalaureate program from the Hoboken School District. Here are some additional thoughts or "proof" that I was asked to provide. I hope this helps those parents and concerned citizens who requested some additional information.

One would think it reasonable to ask the following questions:

1) Was the public brought into the conversation about switching from IB to AP? If so, when were these meetings held? Who was in attendance? Are there minutes?

2) What are the specific educational advantages that the Board of Education sees in the Advanced Placement Program over the IB program?

3) The IB program was good enough for "Race to the Top" and "No Child Left Behind" federal support and there is plenty of research to support it's effectiveness. What specific aspects of the IB program do members of the Board of Education find troublesome?

4) Over the past decade, the Hoboken School District dedicated close to $750,000 to IB professional development, program support, and curriculum. The Advanced Placement program requires substantial teacher training and lab support for it's courses. Has the Hoboken Board of Education approved or have in place a model for effective implementation of a new Advanced Placement Program? Is it available for the public to see? Were teachers involved in the implementation plan like they were for the curriculum implementation plan?

Recent developments suggest the Advanced Placement test is losing some of its luster:

* A recent report by the National Research Council criticized AP and other advanced math and science classes for covering too much material in not enough depth. The panel also raised concerns about teacher preparation, quality control and access to the classes, especially for minority students and those in rural and inner-city schools.

The report echoed a 2001 study commissioned by the College Board itself that acknowledged a growing shortage of qualified teachers and weak academic backgrounds of some AP students.

* Harvard University announced in February that it will award credit only to incoming students who receive the highest AP exam score--a 5 on a 1 to 5 scale. (Many schools give credit for 3s or above.) Stanford, Yale, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, also are rethinking their AP policies.

* A new book (published April 2010) published by the Harvard Educational Press containing the very latest research reports on the Advanced Placement test entitled "A Critical Examination of the Advanced Placement Program" draws into question many aspects of the Advancement Placement Program.

Assuming the current Board of Education majority was aware of and were able to synthesize and understand these technical reports, one may reasonably question what is the basis for decision making in going against the best scholars, researchers and educators in the United States and eliminating the IB program in favor of the Advanced Placement Program in the Hoboken Public Schools.

I hope this helped clarify and provide additional detail for those interested.

-Dr. Petrosino