We thank Dr Rauch for his comments. Our objective in comparing the Rockford and Peoria groups was to determine whether the drop in Rockford scores was the result of an unusually difficult series of pediatric subject examinations. In each class at the University of Illinois, 120 students begin instruction in basic sciences at the Urbana campus. At the end of the first year, 50 of these students enroll at each of the sites in Rockford and Peoria. These community-based campuses rely heavily on volunteers. Students at both sites have a second preclinical year where pathology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and physical diagnosis are taught. At both sites, students pass the NBME Step 1 examination, have an 8-week pediatrics course in the third year, use the same clerkship objectives, and use the NBME pediatric subject examination for grading. Subject examination scores in Peoria and Rockford have traditionally been comparable and very near the national mean during the 3 years preceding this study. If both groups had low subject examination scores it would imply that this series of examinations was more difficult than in previous years. Since only the Rockford group had lower scores, this seems unlikely.
Michael J. Potts, Karen W. Phelan. Curriculum Changes Need Not Be Bad—Reply. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(2):210. doi: