High School Students Need to Think, Not Memorize

New education standards will affect the way regular and AP courses are taught.

Shifts in how high school classes are taught will force students to do more than just memorize information.

Shifts in how high school classes are taught will force students to do more than just memorize information.

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The new AP biology course will zoom in on four "big ideas" that get at the systematic nature of all living things: that "evolution drives the diversity and unity of life"; that living things use molecular building blocks to grow and reproduce; that living systems respond to information essential to life processes; and that biological systems interact in complex ways. Students will study only the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems rather than all 11 body systems.

Many teachers, like Hollinger, look forward to digging deeper, though she suspects that many of today's "best" students who do well on recall and standardized tests might have some trouble adjusting. This new style of learning, says Philip Ballinger, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Washington in Seattle, will definitely be better college prep.

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