Education ForumScience Education

Revising the AP Biology Curriculum

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Science  25 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5948, pp. 1627-1628
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180821

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Summary

At its Advanced Placement (AP) Program annual conference held in July, the College Board released a draft of its new curriculum for the AP biology course (1). Now used in thousands of secondary schools across the country, this course provides some of the best biology instruction in the United States to about 150,000 students every year. Given the growing interest in standards-based education and the absence of official U.S. national standards, AP courses have become increasingly important as de facto standards for high school students, particularly in the sciences. Therefore, it is essential that these courses conform to high standards of both content and pedagogy. As scientific and pedagogical knowledge have advanced in recent years, aspects of the AP program have come under criticism from educators, and revisions of the AP biology course in particular are overdue. The new AP biology curriculum represents a major step toward addressing this criticism. However, questions about its implementation still remain.