Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Take the A.P., But Do Not Pass Go

The credit granted—or not granted—for  high school Advanced Placement scores has appeared on the meeting agendas of nearly every college governance group and committee on which Rebel Girl has served during the last twenty years, with the exception of the Commencement Speaker Task Force (but don't get her started on that one or she might suggest an exam would be an appropriate selection tool).

Recently, proposals have arisen once again regarding just how much credit should be given for certain scores on the A.P. exam. These proposals suggest more is better than less and advocate adjusting our current policies to be more generous with units and course credits granted. The idea is that the AP exams save deserving students tuition as well as time and quickly moves them through their high school education.

This topic reminded Rebel Girl of recent articles she has read which suggest that the nationwide trend is different and so, she offers one here:

Dartmouth Stops Credits for Excelling on A.P. Test

" Concerned that Advanced Placement courses are not as rigorous as college courses, Dartmouth has announced that it will no longer give college credits for good A.P. scores, starting with the class of 2018.
Elite institutions like Dartmouth have long discussed how to handle the growing number of freshmen seeking credit for top scores on A.P. or International Baccalaureate exams. Dartmouth changed its policy after an experiment measuring whether top A.P. scores indicated college-level competence.
“The psychology department got more and more suspicious about how good an indicator a 5 on the A.P. psych exam was for academic success,” said Hakan Tell, a classics professor who heads Dartmouth’s Committee on Instruction, so the department decided to give a condensed version of the Psych 1 final to incoming students instead of giving them credits.
Of more than 100 students who had scored a 5 on the A.P. exam, 90 percent failed the Dartmouth test. The other 10 percent were given Dartmouth credit.
A follow-up effort produced even worse results, Professor Tell said. “We looked at the students who failed our on-campus exam but decided to enroll in Psych 1, to see whether they did any better than students who had never taken the Advanced Placement class, and we couldn’t detect any difference whatsoever,” he said."
This echoes a study from a few years back, published in Inside Higher Ed and elsewhere:

from Advanced Yes, Placement No:
According to research presented Friday in St. Louis at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: AP courses -- whatever their merits -- may be poor substitutes for college courses in the sciences.
The study looked at 18,000 students in introductory biology, chemistry and physics courses in college. The students were at 63 randomly selected four-year colleges and universities and their performance in the courses was correlated to various factors. The researchers found that students who had taken AP courses -- even those who had done well on the AP exams -- did only marginally better than students who had not taken AP courses. Other factors, such as the rigor of mathematics taken in high school, were found to have a strong impact on whether students did well in college-level work in the sciences.
"Our survey, the largest ever of its type, suggests that AP courses do not contribute substantially to student success in college," said Philip M. Sadler, director of science education at the Harvard University-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a senior lecturer in astronomy at Harvard. "Even a score of 5 on an AP test is no guarantee of a college grade of A in the same subject," he said...
...But while AP may function well as enriched content, it doesn't equal college-level work, Sadler said, and shouldn't be promoted as such. If the College Board wants to promote the AP curriculum as a way to allow students to receive credit for some college courses, Sadler saw two options: Make the tests significantly more difficult, or create new scores of 6 or 7, above the current top score, and let only the absolutely top performers with such scores earn college credit. Either way, he said, his research suggests that the vast majority of those now achieving scores indicating that they have done college-level work shouldn't be receiving such scores.


Anonymous said...

I think it's important to hold the line and that such a position is int eh best long-term interest of all of our students.

Anonymous said...

Where is this pressure to accept lower scores coming from?

Anonymous said...

It's all about course completion without having to take the course.

Anonymous said...

9:47am Watch students flee to other local community colleges. We are not Dartmouth.

Anonymous said...

Counselors seem eternally clueless about how unprepared most of our students are for college-level writing, reading, etc.

Anonymous said...

Do the math. Unit fees are a source of revenue. Why give credit away when you can charge for it.

Anonymous said...

11:48 - watch students flock to us because they get a quality education which helps them when they transfer! We are not Dartmouth to be sure but I have no idea why anyone wants to champion lower standards. Come to IVC - we're E-Z!!!! Come ON.

Anonymous said...

I wish the people who want us to accept lower scores saw the kind of student work we see everyday in our classes - and saw the kind of skills demanded by these tests...perhaps that would help them to recognize our objections to this proposal.

Anonymous said...

12:30: It seems that you are clueless regarding the fact that counselors are not the ones that decided that UC and CSU will accept AP English in lieu of Writing 1.

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