As we begin the spring semester, students are reminded to re-examine their path to graduation. For many students, their last remaining barrier to graduation is the sheer number of credits needed to graduate after all their major requirements have been met. Because graduation requires completing such a large number of miscellaneous credits, high school students work hard to rack up as many college credits as possible before entering college.
According to a recent New York Times article, Dartmouth College has announced that it will stop giving credit to incoming students for earning top scores on Advanced Placement exams beginning with the class of 2018. Dartmouth claims that AP courses are not as rigorous as their college equivalents, and an experiment conducted by the school’s psychology department suggested that around 90 percent of more than 100 students earning a 5 on the AP psychology exam failed a condensed final in introductory psychology issued by the department.
The College Board, responsible for directing AP curriculum and exams, disagrees with Dartmouth’s claims and has stated that they “have research, including Dartmouth students who got a 5 on their psychology AP exam, showing that they did better than students without that AP.”
Many successful high school students rely on the 4s and 5s they earn on Advanced Placement exams to get additional credits for college. Not only do these credits propel them to a faster graduation time, but they are important factors in reducing the cost of higher education.
Dartmouth should consider the increased financial burden they place on students with this decision and should do more comprehensive research on the rigor of AP courses before denying college credit to students who have demonstrated excellence in high school.