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Sentinel School Zone: Cambridge programs (and tests) making inroads in Orange schools

Thursday, December 05, 2013

By Lauren Roth

Cambridge programs and exams, which are sometimes mentioned in the same breath with Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, are being introduced in several Orange County public schools.

Like AP and IB, Cambridge offers a college-preparatory curriculum that culminates in official exams. Now some families in Orange County will get a chance to try the program, which is praised for focusing on critical thinking skills.

An announcement Wednesday by Cambridge International Examinations said their program is being implemented this year at Colonial High School and Liberty Middle School. The nonprofit is hosting a kickoff event next Tuesday at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld for educators and school leaders.

More than 100 Florida schools have signed on to the Cambridge program, which is part of University of Cambridge in England.

According to an Education Week article, the Cambridge programs are aggressively expanding in the United States and particularly in Florida, where its U.S. operations are based. Miami-Dade schools are expanding the Cambridge program from 16 to 70 of their schools. Florida students can earn college credits and scholarships for performing well on Cambridge exams or earning a Cambridge diploma credential.

The Cambridge approach is based around writing, critical thinking and the use of primary sources for research. Offerings include language arts, math, science and social studies courses.

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