CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — High school students hoping to earn college credits through Advanced Placement exams soon will be out of luck at Dartmouth College, which has concluded the tests aren’t as rigorous as its own classes.
The Ivy League school currently awards credit in some academic subjects for qualifying scores on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and A-level exams. But after nearly a decade of discussion, faculty recently voted to end the practice starting with the class of 2018.
“The concern that we have is that increasingly, AP has been seen as equivalent to a college-level course, and it really isn’t, in our opinion,” said Hakan Tell, a classics professor and chairman of the college’s Committee on Instruction.
Dartmouth’s decision comes at a time of rapid growth for Advanced Placement. Some 2 million students took 3.7 million AP tests last spring, figures that have more than doubled in the last decade. In 2011, 18 percent of U.S. high school graduates passed at least one AP exams (by scoring at least a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5), up from 11 percent a decade ago.
But the program also has faced criticism that its growing popularity has resulted in watered down courses.
“Many high schools have made their AP courses little more than test prep,” said Bob Schaeffer, of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing. “The common criticism is that they’re a mile wide and a quarter-inch deep.”
Dartmouth also still believes AP courses are useful in preparing students for college and will continue to use test scores to help place students in appropriate courses, Tell emphasized, and students who may have wanted to use AP credit to graduate early will have other options. But he pointed to an experiment undertaken by the college’s psychology department as proof that AP courses often fall short.
(Next page: What factors influenced Dartmouth’s decision.)