The Falcon   |   Volume 83, Issue 53

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The worth of AP credit

Universities look at effectiveness of AP credits

By , Staff Reporter

Published: February 6 2013

Starting with the class of 2018, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire has announced that it will no longer accept Advanced Placement, A-Level or International Baccalaureate exams for college credit.

AP, A-Levels and IB courses are programs that allow high school students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school.

Colleges and universities, including Seattle Pacific University, will often accept credit for entry-level courses from students who test well on exams.

AP exams are accepted almost nationwide in the US, while IB and A-Level exams are accepted in most other countries and parts of America as well.

After hearing of Dartmouth’s decision, Debbie Crouch, the associate director for academic counseling, wrote in a written interview that student performance, not living up to expectations, should cause SPU faculty to take a closer look at how the academic performance of their students correlates to the exams for which they received credit.

She said that she doubted Dartmouth’s decision would directly affect SPU’s policies.

“Faculty occasionally adjust their credit-awarding policies for individual exams based on curricular changes,” Crouch said. “Student performance indicators; discussion across the broader higher education community and (doubtless) other factors that I, as a non-faculty member, am not considering.”

Citing a reason for Dartmouth’s new policy on course credits, the New York Times said that Hakan Tell, a classics professor who also heads Dartmouth’s Committee on Instruction, gave incoming Psych 1 students who had passed the AP exam in high school a condensed version of the Psych final exam instead of automatically giving them credits.

According to the article, the results showed that 90 percent of the students failed the test.

In addition, the results showed that students who had no AP credits fared the same as those who received a five, the highest possible score, on the AP exam.

While there has been no talk yet of SPU limiting or doing away with AP and IB credits in the near future, several students at the university have expressed their opinions and concerns about Dartmouth’s decision and how it might affect them if SPU followed the Ivy League school.

“I think my AP exams in high school were equivalent to college exams,” said SPU freshman Ellie Knopp, on whether she thought AP courses were rigorous enough to merit college credit.

“Personally, I wouldn’t like it if SPU got rid of AP credits because my AP history counted, and I got credit for it,” freshman Keturah Wik said.

Wik went on to say that if SPU did get rid of AP and IB credits, they would have to be very clear about it so that students could plan ahead to do Running Start or other courses that might help them.

“If SPU was thinking of getting rid of AP credits, I think that would be super discouraging considering students put themselves out there to take that extra step,” said Sabrina Alvarez, another freshman student who took AP exams and got college credit for them.

Alvarez said that despite what top educators at Dartmouth have been saying, she felt like her college exams were on par with the AP exams she took in high school.

“Yes, I mean, I would say that the AP exams are equivalent to college exams,” freshman Meg Morgan said.

The 2012-2013 undergraduate catalogue contains all of SPU’s current policies and requirements regarding AP and IB curricula.

“In making decisions about awarding credit for these exams, the goals of the university are to ensure that students are appropriately receiving college-level credit for college-level learning and to ensure that students receiving credit for a particular SPU course or subject area have laid a solid foundation for academic success in subsequent coursework,” Crouch said.

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