The Value of Advanced Placement Courses

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The value of College Board’s Advanced Placement courses has come into question as Dartmouth College has decided to no longer accept any A.P. credits.

Over the years, many Ivy League schools have made restrictions involving the amount and types of A.P. credits that are accepted by their college institutions. After almost a decade of deliberation, the faculty at Dartmouth College put the decision to vote and determined that starting in the year 2018, Dartmouth will no longer accept any A.P. credits.

Hakan Tell, a classics professor and chairman of the college’s Committee on Instruction, expressed his concern on how “the A.P. has been seen as equivalent to a college-level course and it really isn’t — in our opinion.”

But George Hendrey, professor of environmental science at Queens College, has seen differently.

“I have observed the classes my daughter took in high school and the amount of work she had to do to score near the top of her class,” Hendrey said. “I think that her A.P. class would substitute for an introductory course at QC.”

According to Hendrey, if each department wanted to do their own evaluation to “determine whether or not to accept the A.P. credit, they would have to evaluate the content of the course to see if it covers the same material as a QC course, and also evaluate what would be a minimum acceptable score on the A.P. test.”

The College Board also believes its courses are up to par; according to the A.P. website.

“Each course is developed by a committee composed of college faculty and A.P. teachers, and covers the breadth of information, skills, and assignments found in the corresponding college course,” the website reads.

College Board research shows that students who succeed on an A.P. exam during high school typically experience greater academic success in college, lower college costs and are more likely to earn a college degree than their peers.

The average time to complete a bachelor’s degree at a majority of colleges and institutions has increased to six years, so the College Board anticipates that there will be continued reliance on

A.P. exam scores to place students into an advanced college course and provide them with credits toward degree completion.

In fact, around 2 million students took 3.7 million A.P. tests last spring; figures that have more than doubled in the last decade.

This leaves many wondering about the true reason behind Dartmouth’s decision.

“I hope Dartmouth made its decision on the basis of data and did not take Educational Testing Services statements as fact — they have a financial stake in it — but I know of no data,” Robert Lanson, chair of the QC psychology department said.

Lanson also offered a possible solution to the problem if a college does believe that there is less of a course value. “One way might be to give Psych 101 final exams to those who want A.P. credit to see how well they do,” he said. “But I know of no one who has done that.”

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