International Institute Cites MCPS for AP Use

July 30, 2007
MCPS Cited by International Policy Institute for Effective Use of Advanced Placement Courses

Process of Setting High Standards for High School Students and "Backward Mapping" to Align and Strengthen Curriculum in Early Grades Are Highlighted

A recent study published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international policy institute located in France, featured the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in its description of school reform initiatives in the United States and described the “encouraging results” of MCPS efforts.

The study, titled Economic Survey of the United States, highlighted the school system as an example of the use of Advanced Placement (AP) courses and tests as “de facto national standards” in America in its chapter on improving elementary and second education. The study, published in May 2007 and distributed this week, described the MCPS initiative of using the rigorous standards and expectations of the AP program to reinforce and align academic improvements in both elementary and secondary schools. 

“The mission of MCPS is to provide a high-quality, world-class education for all our students,” said Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. “This report provides international recognition of our efforts to provide a curriculum with high standards taught by well-prepared teachers.”

“The OECD report recognizes the effectiveness of setting high standards and of developing a systematic approach to improvement in teaching and learning,” said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. “These elements are at the core of the Board of Education’s strategic plan for Montgomery County Public Schools and have resulted in substantial improvements in student performance over time.”

Following is an excerpt from the report: 

One of the earlier criticisms of AP was that its imposition of high content standards penalised students enrolled in school systems with weak programmes at lower grade levels…As part of systemic strategy to address this problem, Montgomery County School District in the state of Maryland set out to determine what level of proficiency students in 9th grade needed in order to start AP courses in the 10th grade, and then what level of proficiency 8th graders needed to reach the level needed for 9th grade…There are encouraging results in terms of enrolment in AP courses and passing AP examinations…The political impetus for the strategy has come from the evidence that schooling outcomes are cumulative and that strengthening high school results requires strengthening lower levels of education.

The section of the report featuring MCPS is at the link below (pages 116 and 117). The web site for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development also is below.

The nations with representatives in OECD include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, in addition to the Commission of the European Communities.

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