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ERIC Number: EJ1016780
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1529-8957
A Rigorous Curriculum Really Matters
Cook, Erika
Principal Leadership, v13 n8 p36-40 Apr 2013
As every good secondary administrator knows, rigorous curricula matter. Challenging curricula is the factor in lifting each student to reach their potential: "the academic intensity of the student's high school curriculum still counts more than anything providing momentum toward completing a bachelor's degree" (Adelman, 2006, p. xviii). Exposure to a rigorous curriculum is a better predictor of academic success in college than such variables as the education level of parents, test scores, class rank, GPA, or family background (Jobs for the Future, 2008). Those are the main reasons why college admissions offices use the strength of a student's high school curriculum as an important factor in college admission (Clinedinst & Hawkins, 2010). While curricula can be defined slightly differently by admissions offices, AP and IB curricula fall into the category of universal acceptance because there is a national standard of measurement for all test takers. So if leaders know the importance of rigorous curricula, they should be creating necessary infrastructure, preparing students, encouraging enrollment, and maintaining supportive environments for successful experiences. In this article, the author describes how Valley High School, a suburban high school with just under 2,000 students in grades 10-12 located outside of Des Moines, Iowa, developed an AP program that increased the numbers of students taking AP classes by 33%. She concludes that even if schools have obstacles to expanding their AP/IB programs, challenging curricula should be available to all students. Exposure to rigorous curricula in high school is the most important factor in preparing students for college. Traditional mind-sets of elitism and barriers of exclusion are now antiquated. The job of educational leaders is to support organic expansion efforts that minimize negative outcomes and inspire a culture of AP equity.
National Association of Secondary School Principals. 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1537. Tel: 800-253-7746; Tel: 703-860-0200; Fax: 703-620-6534; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Iowa
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A