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College Clarifies AP Credit Fiasco (Again)

Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno has issued a statement (on the Friday before Winter Carnival) on the AP credit situation. It now turns out that the Committee on Instruction had, in fact, looked at the social science literature on the validity of AP courses, but the Psychology and Brain Science Department’s research was not, in fact, at all authoritative in evaluating AP courses. At least that’s how things look for the time being — the opposite of previous comments and statements. What sloppiness all round.

Statement Regarding the Advanced Placement Policy Modification

Dartmouth has received questions about a modification in our policy for use of Advanced Placement (AP) exams. AP exams are a valuable tool for evaluating applicants and they will continue to be used for course placement. Incoming students with qualifying AP scores will continue to be able to place out of certain introductory courses or be exempted from certain requirements, consistent with the original purpose of the scores. Beginning in fall 2014, students admitted to Dartmouth will no longer receive credit toward graduation for AP scores. As previously announced, we will re-evaluate the decision after three years to ensure our students are getting the best possible Dartmouth education.

Our policy modification is the outcome of many years of faculty discussion and dialogue regarding the nature and scope of coursework at Dartmouth. Ultimately the decision to modify the policy was made to require our students to take full advantage of the faculty expertise and unique academic resources that characterize a Dartmouth educational experience. While members of the faculty’s Committee on Instruction did review available peer-reviewed research, the faculty’s final decision was based on the experience of Dartmouth faculty over many years and the curricular needs of Dartmouth departments and programs.

It is also important to note that this modification does not alter our strong commitment to affordability; Dartmouth’s need-blind financial aid program currently meets 100 percent of demonstrated need. As is the case now, the small number of Dartmouth students who are interested in accelerating their time to degree completion will still be able to do so by increasing their course load so that they can graduate one term early.

Regarding an informal Psychology Department experiment that has been mentioned in press reports, we would like to make clear that it was undertaken by a single academic department for its own particular purposes. It was neither peer-reviewed research nor undertaken to be a general statement about the value of AP courses, and should not be characterized as such.

Michael Mastanduno
Dean of Faculty of Arts & Sciences

This incident is a small, but representative, aperçu into the quality of decision-making and staff work at the College today. As a parent recently commented in The D, we have a first-class college with a third-class administration.

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