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Nixing of AP Credits Is National Story

Taking the intense media focus off the College’s problems with hazing and Trustee investments required a bold move from the administration, but Carol “All is PR” Folt was up to the task. Rather than coordinating with all the other Ivy schools to end the granting of academic credit for AP tests, the College decided to lead with its chin in the matter, and we will pay the price next year in admissions. The national press has noted the story and run with it. From the AP report, which was picked up by ABC News, FoxNews, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Yahoo News, the Huffington Post, Newsday, dozens of other publications and TV stations, and probably every high school college counselor on the planet:

High school students hoping to earn college credits through Advanced Placement exams soon will be out of luck at Dartmouth College, which has concluded the tests aren’t as rigorous as its own classes.

The Ivy League school currently awards credit in some academic subjects for qualifying scores on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and A-level exams. But after nearly a decade of discussion, faculty recently voted to end the practice starting with the class of 2018…

Dartmouth’s decision comes at a time of rapid growth for Advanced Placement. Some 2 million students took 3.7 million AP tests last spring, figures that have more than doubled in the last decade. In 2011, 18 percent of U.S. high school graduates passed at least one AP exams (by scoring at least a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5), up from 11 percent a decade ago.


Dartmouth officials weren’t able to point to other colleges that have eliminated credit for AP exams, though some have tightened their policies over the years…

Policies vary at other Ivy League schools. At Princeton, AP tests scores can help students become eligible for “advanced standing,” and earn credit equivalent up to a full year. But no more than five students have taken advantage of that option in recent years, a spokesman said, and there are no plans to change the policy.

Columbia plans to review its policies this year, but for now, allows students to earn up to 16 points through AP tests. But very few use that credit to graduate early, said Dean of Advising Monique Rinere. Similarly, Harvard College currently offers students the opportunity to use test scores to satisfy the language requirement and sometimes to place into higher level courses, but only a small fraction ultimately graduate early.

Graduating early is one thing, but saving the ‘rents a term of tuition, or having a light course load for a quarter or two, is quite another — as high school seniors with many AP credits will hear as they choose a college.

As this space reported a while back, the idea of eliminating credit for high school courses is not a bad one at all. An AP course in high school is not equivalent to a College course, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. To my mind, any efforts that Dartmouth can make to avoid watering down the content of the AB degree makes sense. For example, all students should be required to participate in a Dartmouth LSA/FSP program, rather than attending a cheapo program put on by another school. But in going from that theoretical position to creating an operating policy, the administration has acted with its typical ineptitude. The College will be the loser in the eyes of prospective students, especially students who have made the effort to take many advanced courses and those with financial challenges.

Addendum: While the new policies will come into effect for the class of 2018, no mention of them yet appears on the College’s admissions website (AP Credit Chart, IB Credit Info, A-Level Credit Info).

Addendum: Lo and behold but the College’s website has now been updated — almost two months after the faculty’s decision, and six hours or so after the above post.

AP Tests text1.jpg


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