Key Points

· GLEF and a research team from the University of Washington worked with Washington's Bellevue School District to develop and assess the impact of project-based learning on upper-level courses in high school.

· Research suggests that Advanced Placement (AP) courses may focus too much on accelerated content at the expense of deeper conceptual learning.

· The number of students taking AP courses has grown, but along with this the number failing has increased. GLEF and the research team tested project-based learning (PBL) to counteract this trend.

· Results after two years are promising. Students in the PBL-AP courses are performing as well or better than students in traditional AP courses.

· Other education funders are encouraged to use an iterative design process, work with a diverse design team, and bring in partners who can contribute needed expertise and resources.

Open Access