Gaston Caperton, a former two-term governor of West Virginia, is the eighth president of the College Board, a not-for-profit membership association founded in 1900 that consists of 5,000 of the nation's leading schools, colleges, and universities. Among its best-known programs are the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) and the SAT®.
Since his appointment in 1999, Caperton has transformed the College Board into a resolutely mission-driven, values-oriented organization that takes bold steps to connect greater numbers of students to college success and opportunity while raising educational standards. In his successful effort to expand equity within programs that foster academic excellence, he has more than doubled the size of the College Board's staff, modernized its management structure, and established collegeboard.com, the nation's predominant comprehensive Web site serving nearly 4 million students a year as they plan their paths to college.
Question: How does the College Board set academic standards in high schools?
Caperton: We, over the last few years, established a set of standards for what we call college success, and the way we develop those standards is we took the AAU, which are, as you know, a research of colleges and universities. We took those standards that they spent 4 years developing and use those as… and those were standards set for what does a kid need to know or student need to know to go to college and succeed, and we took those from the 12th grade and took them down to the 6th grade in Math and English, in which we said if this is what you need to know at the end, what do you need to know after the 6th grade, 7th, and took it all the way up. And we’ve built, not only have we built the standards but we also have the programs, the curriculum that allows kids to take what would prepare them for those year to year standards, and we call that program SpringBoard, and that program we’ve spent the last three or four years developing, and it also feeds very much into the AP program, which, as you know, is a college level course taught in high school. We have 37 of those courses. They are recognized by colleges and universities across the country, and you are given credit for taking those high school courses based upon their grade in 1 to 5, and if you have a 3, 4, 5, you get a credit in college. So, we’ve really developed those standards, looking at what the AAU standards were and what we believe a student needs to know to be successful to go to college. I think standards is really a belief in people, believe that all of us have a lot much more capacity and capability than we know, and it takes a good teacher to bring that out. I think it takes a good leader to bring that out.